Tufts Jumpstart Grows and Gives Back
The early childhood education program, housed at Tisch College, continues to engage Tufts students in local schools and expands its impact on underserved children.
Jumpstart at Tufts University hit the ground running last term at the beginning of the academic school year, and plans to continue to do so this semester. With the support of Tufts student organizations and of Jumpstart Volunteer Coordinator Ailish Dougherty, A19, Jumpstart has been successful in giving back to Tufts’ host communities of Somerville and Medford through donations and events—as well as by expanding its impact on the education of underserved youth.
Jumpstart is a national education organization focused on providing young children in under-resourced communities with vital literacy skills. At Tufts, Jumpstart operates through Tisch College, which helps recruit and organize Tufts students to volunteer with preschoolers. Tufts is one of Jumpstart’s oldest university partners, and the university recruits up to 50 students each year to work with local children.
Last semester, one of Tufts Jumpstart’s biggest projects involved donating a carload of food to the Elizabeth Peabody House emergency food pantry in Somerville, where it supplied 20 families with a week’s worth of groceries. In addition, Jumpstart hosted various organizational meetings and initiatives, including a Milk and Bookies event that gave over 100 customized books to children. “Students came together to insure that every child would have something to read over the holidays,” said Chris Hernández, Jumpstart Site Manager at Tufts University.
“Connecting with the communities we serve is one of Jumpstart’s core values, and Jumbos have been showing up to make this an incredible school year with the community in order to build long-lasting and meaningful connections,” added Hernández. This year, 40 students have stepped up to engage over 130 preschoolers in intentional instruction focused on language and literacy. Over 60 additional volunteers have worked with Jumpstart to give back to the community in various ways, and by expanding collaboration with other organizations in the Tufts community in the Somerville/Medford area, the number of children served by Jumpstart has grown to over 200.
“We’re excited about the progress we’ve made so far, but we are not done yet,” said Hernández. Jumpstart is currently seeking more campus groups and organizational partners to help strengthen its reach and impact on local children, particularly groups that have specific projects or talents that they can bring to preschool classrooms. Additionally, students who wish to join Jumpstart and advance the mission to ensure that every child enters kindergarten prepared to succeed can inquire about Spring and Summer positions, all of which are work-study eligible and some of which are eligible for the Segal Education Award.
“We can always use dedicated people who have a passion for ensuring our future!” Hernández said. “Join Jumpstart today!”