Each year, 2.2 million four-year-old children in the United States do not have access to publicly-funded early education. More than half are from low-income families and face barriers including program availability, quality, and cost.
Waterford Upstart makes this access possible by helping young children develop cognitive and social-emotional skills in the home, empowering families to become their child’s first and most influential teachers. Waterford Upstart’s instructional program, which features interactive, multicultural content, is used by children who lack access to traditional high-quality Pre-K for 15 minutes per day, five days a week. The program guides children along a personalized path to learn the fundamentals of literacy. Waterford Upstart provides computers and Internet access at no charge to families in need, ensuring the program is truly accessible to everyone who needs it.
Waterford Upstart leverages philanthropic funding to pilot its program in select states, collect data on evidence of impact, and then advocate for public funding to sustain and expand its work. In 2020, Waterford Upstart piloted its offering in 13 states (Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming), and obtained public funding of almost $19 million in eight more (Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin), up from three just two years ago.
In 2020, Waterford Upstart enrolled 41,332 students across its school year and summer program, at an average cost of $1,250 per family, resulting in several thousand additional children starting school kindergarten-ready.
Overdeck Family Foundation provided COVID response funding to Waterford Upstart, allowing it to create and launch its summer offering, called Summer Learning Path (SLP), which served 8,650 children in its first year. Eighty-six percent of children were kindergarten-ready at the end of the program.
While the summer program was initially created for COVID learning recovery and meant only for implementation in 2020, its success led Waterford Upstart to continue to support advocacy for SLP expansion in states with the largest declines in Pre-K enrollment, where there is no philanthropic funding for pilots or where pilot work has already been completed but more data is needed to convince legislators. To date, the program has served over 13,000 children.