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Public Affairs

Jumpstart receives honor for 'changing the world'

March 29, 2004

Photo of SFSU students tutoring children one-on-one at one of the San Francisco Jumpstart locationsAt centers across the country, including San Francisco State University, Jumpstart fosters literacy and social skill development in young children and was recently commended for its vision to solve the national teaching shortage and help disadvantaged preschoolers at the same time. The program currently engages 1,600 college students in service to 6,000 children and operates in 18 states, 44 communities and 160 preschools.

At SF State, Jumpstart trains and pairs work-study students with preschool children to help the youngsters develop reading, language and social skills. Through this relationship, Jumpstart prepares 3- to 5-year-olds for success in school.

"Sometimes children from low-income families are not given all the tools they need to succeed. Jumpstart helps these children enter school at a level playing ground," said Lygia Stebbing, site director of the University’s Jumpstart program.

The program also encourages college students to be teachers as well as leaders in education.

Rakita O'Neal, a junior psychology major, had plans to become a child psychologist when she first joined SF State. That changed when she began working with Jumpstart.

"Now I know I want to be a teacher and I want to own a preschool," O’Neal said.

SF State became Jumpstart's first university affiliate in 1997. Today, Jumpstart SF State is considered one of the country’s top model programs by the national organization. "Our children have consistently had higher assessment scores compared to ones who have not received help," Stebbing added.

A total of 74 SFSU students are committed to provide much needed literacy and social skills to children from low-income families in Bayview-Hunter's Point, the Mission, the Marina, the Richmond District and the South of Market area. The program has had a big impact not only on the children, but students as well.

"For me and most of us in the program, Jumpstart becomes a big part of our lives and not a day goes by without thinking about the kids or the program," said Cindy Cervantes, a senior majoring in English. "It's not one of those jobs where the only thing you look forward to at the end of the day is leaving it."

The students, many who plan to go into teaching, receive an education award of $2,400 through AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health and the environment.

The 20 winners of the Fast Company/Monitor Social Capitalist Award were chosen from a pool of 80 organizations and evaluated on entrepreneurship, innovation, social impact, aspiration and sustainability.

For more information about Jumpstart, call (415) 338-3884.

-- Public Affairs Student Writer Audrey Tang with Christina Holmes


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Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications