Literacy gives you options. If you can't read or write, it’s not that you can't seize opportunities, you don't even know they're there. Job prospects, self-confidence and the ability to make informed choices are taken away. Literacy gives people more options.
In low-income neighborhoods, children start kindergarten 60% behind their peers from more affluent communities, leaving them woefully unprepared when it’s time to start school. When children start school behind, they are more likely stay behind. Jumpstart is an early education organization working toward the day every child in the U.S. enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. We provide language, literacy, and social-emotional programming for preschool children from under-resourced communities and promote quality early learning for all children. By participating in Jumpstart’s year-long program, children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path for lifelong success.
The beginning of Gilberto ‘Gil’ Zamora’s life was filled with gang violence, but thanks to Jumpstart, he was presented with life options. Raised on the heart of Compton, Los Angeles amongst the tumult of the Rodney King riots in the 1990s.
A couple of years after the riots, Gil was attending San Francisco State University where he got in contact with Jumpstart.
Jumpstart employs college students from all backgrounds to work with low-income kindergarten children, reading with them and providing them with the language and literacy skills they need to enter school prepared to succeed. However the children aren’t the only ones helped through the program.
Working at Jumpstart, Gil found a new lease on life. “We were doing meaningful, important work and Jumpstart sparked my interest and advocacy for early childhood education. I saw myself as living proof that there was more for the children I served. They had options in life that they would realise, and I would help them on that path.”
Gil remembers one child, William, who was incredibly quiet, as English was not his first language. “During my work with William, there was a day when I called him by his Cantonese name, which got him really excited. That moment of acknowledgement and engagement with him in his native language was powerful.” After that, they began to really create a relationship with each other, and William became more and more confident as he learned more and more English.
The impact of Jumpstart on Gil’s life has been huge, as has the impact he has had on the children he has worked with.
“Jumpstart shaped my values, influenced my career, and my appreciation and respect of different cultures. Jumpstart shaped what I value as a person and professional.”
Jumpstart shaped my values, influenced my career, and my appreciation and respect of different cultures. Jumpstart shaped what I value as a person and professional.Gil