Jumpstart to be official club, hopes to raise profile and membership

February 14, 2013

This year, Jumpstart, a non-profit organization started in 1993, has begun the process of becoming an officially sponsored Georgetown club. Becoming an official club will help Jumpstart raise its visibility and recruit more students, improve its access to space on campus, and complement the efforts of the D.C. Reads program.

Having first reached a partnership with Georgetown’s Center for Child and Human Development to address school readiness for preschool students in the fall of 2006, the goal of Jumpstart is to help preschool students prepare for school. Students in Jumpstart tutor preschoolers one-on-one and lead them in large group activities to promote literacy and language in a social setting.

The program differs from D.C. Reads and D.C. Schools because Jumpstart focuses on tutoring at-risk preschool students while D.C. Reads focuses on students from first through third grade, and D.C. Schools teaches English as a second language to low income youths and adult immigrants.

Despite existing at Georgetown for over six years, Jumpstart has not yet become well known around the University. Part of the reason was its affiliation with the Center for Child and Human Development instead of the more well known Center for Social Justice.

“This year, Jumpstart members began making efforts to make Jumpstart an official Georgetown club. The reason for this is because this year, with comparison to last year—from my experience—not many people signed up to work with Jumpstart,” wrote Jeymani Robinson (COL ‘15), a team leader for Jumpstart in an email to the Voice. “At first, we weren’t sure what the reason for this was but we soon began to realize a simple truth: no one knew what Jumpstart was.”

Robinson, recognizing the current lack of advertising, wrote, “being an official club would help us get the word out through the option to table and spread information for incoming students as well as upperclassmen so that they are informed about what Jumpstart does and what are the benefits and commitments of signing up with us.”

Even though Jumpstart has reached a partnership with Georgetown, without the status of being an “official club,” it cannot use University space for its events.

“It would also help [increase] convenience [for] the students involved. For instance: because we are not an official Georgetown program, we cannot reserve spaces on-campus for training meetings or other events,” Robinson wrote. “Having the option of holding training meetings on-campus would cut down student travel times and help save them time and money getting to where they need to go.”

Marketing to more students, however, is not the only problem Jumpstart wants to fix by becoming an official club. The organization is actually experiencing a shortage of student participants, reducing its impact in the classroom. Part of students’ reluctance to join may be the significant time commitment required of the program.

“Jumpstart is a national non-profit organization that requires at least 300 hours of service and learning from each person over the school year, which I know is big commitment,” wrote Sidney Wells (COL ‘16), a member of Jumpstart. “To alleviate the tremendous hours obligation mandated by Jumpstart, I believe we are pursuing the status ‘official club’ to engage aspiring students at Georgetown by providing them with a more feasible hourly commitment into the classroom to support our mission in early childhood education.”

If Jumpstart does succeed in becoming an official club, it will coexist with D.C. Reads, and D.C. Schools, two clubs focused on tutoring children in the D.C. area. Members of Jumpstart, however, believe at all of these groups can exist together and even complement each other.

“The two programs, D.C. Reads and Jumpstart, serve as great complements for each other,” Robinson wrote. “As I understand, D.C. Reads has an older age-group—first and second graders, I believe—while Jumpstart works mainly with the ages three through five with preschoolers.”

Robinson believes the existence of both programs on campus would enhance the community service experience of students at Georgetown without conflicting with D.C. Reads. “In short, both D.C. Reads and Jumpstart would benefit from having each other as official clubs because the two would attract a much wider audience to the realm of early childhood education and open for students more avenues to follow as they explore the two programs throughout their time at Georgetown.”

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