Emory Report
September 29, 2008
Volume 61, Number 6

Want to volunteer?
Faculty and staff interested
in volunteer opportunities may call Emory Jumpstart Site Manager Elise Albrecht at 404-727-2854 for information.

Interested students may join the waitlist for the popular program by applying online at www.jstart.org/apply.



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29, 2008
AmeriCorps arm jumpstarts learning

By Elizabeth Elkins

This fall, Emory begins a new partnership that pairs University students with underprivileged preschool-aged children from underserved Atlanta communities through Jumpstart, a nonprofit early education organization. Emory joins more than 70 campuses nationwide in this effort to build the social, emotional and literacy skills of children of low-income families.

Jumpstart volunteers will learn teaching skills, and can earn federal work-study dollars as well as a $1,000 AmeriCorps education award. The program aligns closely to Emory’s strategic themes of engaged scholarship and community involvement. During the program’s Sept. 17 kick-off event, Emory Trustee Laura Hardman ’67C emphasized the perfection of the partnership.

“Jumpstart is results-based and research-driven,” she said. “It constantly seeks innovative methods to achieve goals, much like we do at Emory. As a University, we strive to engage community in meaningful ways.

“This program is transformative for both the volunteers and the children,” Hardman continued. “There is no better way to learn about oneself than through teaching. It is what former president James T. Laney called ‘education of the heart.’ This program helps turn our students into leaders who make decisions with their hearts as well as their minds to create positive change within the community.”

More than 30 students have already signed up for Jumpstart, including team leader Ebbie Njoku. Njoku, a senior political science major, spent her first three years at Emory volunteering with 5- to 12-year old refugees.

“Preschoolers drew me to Jumpstart,” she says. “This is an amazing chance to build my education, and to reach a new age group. Seeing the children progress from not being able to read and being completely disinterested in learning to being engaged and excited about learning is very exciting to me.”

This school year, Njoku and her peers will each spend at least 300 hours with their mentee, a child from Sheltering Arms Dunbar Center at Cook Elementary or Sheltering Arms Dorothy Arkwright Center. There, they will focus on creating a strong foundation of language, literacy and initiative skills with their child.

“The early childhood education aspect of Jumpstart is very important to Emory,” explains Cynthia Shaw, assistant dean of Campus Life and director of the Office of Student Leadership and Service. “Emory has done work with high schools and elementary schools, but this is a unique opportunity. We can impact children when they are 3 and 4 years old, when they are little sponges. At that age, they want to get it right and they have such energy.”