After serving as a Jumpstart Corps Member for four years, Katie DeGuglielmo ’10 knew she wanted to continue working with Jumpstart after graduation.
“For four years I witnessed the change that Jumpstart creates in the lives of college student volunteers and in the lives of children,” DeGuglielmo said. “I believe in the value of this program and I’ve seen the real impact it has on all of our stakeholders.”
A national literacy program, Jumpstart partners college students with low-income preschool children. At Tufts, Jumpstart is housed by Tisch College and run by Tufts Alum Beth Bauer ’07, who like DeGuglielmo found her passion while working for Jumpstart at Tufts.
“Working with Jumpstart as a student ignited my passion for childhood literacy,” Bauer said. “A child’s ability to read and write has a direct impact on that child’s ability to succeed in school and in a career. At Jumpstart, we give children a safe space to enjoy reading and to develop the skills they will need later in life.”
Now serving as Jumpstart site manager for Northeastern University and Wheelock College, DeGuglielmo, who majored in International Relations, says the program has a broad impact on the community.
“Not only does participation in Jumpstart lead many college students change their career path to incorporate a newly discovered passion for young children, but year after year families tell us the impact we’ve had on their child’s literacy and social development,” she said. “Additionally, Preschool teachers continue to ask for the tools and methods we use to supplement their curriculum in their classrooms.”
Jumpstart’s impressive impact on children and classrooms is due in part to outstanding participants such as DeGuglielmo, who has continually worked hard to ensure the children she works with have all the tools they need to succeed.
In her first year at Jumpstart, DeGuglielmo found herself working at a school that desperately needed a loft – a quiet space where children could read in the classroom and a warm space where children could be physically active on days when it was too cold outside. After discussing this need with teachers and staff at the school, DeGuglielmo coordinated construction of the loft free of charge.
“The loft offered children a dynamic, engaging, and safe space to explore the classroom from new perspectives and became a favorite spot for Corps members to read with children,” she said. “And everything was an in-kind donation – L/R Construction donated materials and labor, Tufts students donated hours to paint, ACE Hardware donated paint supplies, Boloco donated volunteer lunches, and Home Depot donated the carpeting and a worker to install the carpet.”
DeGuglielmo went on to intern with Jumpstart’s Northeast Regional office, where she helped raise over $150,000 for Jumpstart programming. While she wrote and secured grants supporting a number of different Jumpstart programs, DeGuglielmo’s main role was to support Read for the Record.
“The average low-income family of a preschool child owns only one or two age-appropriate books,” DeGuglielmo said. “Each October, Jumpstart seeks to increase this number with their Read for the Record campaign. Aiming to break the world record of the number of adults and children sharing the same book on the same day, Read for the Record supports Jumpstart’s college programs and results in donated copies of the storybook to children from low income families.”
In 2009, when DeGuglielmo worked on the project, she promoted the event through local media, asked for donations to support the project and coordinated reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Boston Public Library for 200 children.
“Look for Read for the Record next October and consider that every donation of $10 supports Jumpstart’s programming in Boston, donates one storybook to a preschool child and gives $3 to Jumpstart’s program at Tufts,” DeGuglielmo added.
Upon graduating from Tufts in May, DeGuglielmo’s outstanding commitment to Jumpstart was recognized with a Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service – the highest civic honor given to Tufts students.
“I was drawn to Tufts by the school’s reputation for international education; I wanted to learn about the needs of children in developing countries,” she said. “Working with Jumpstart I learned about the needs of children in my own community and about the role students play in meeting those needs. For me, Tufts was that unique place to gain both local and international knowledge through direct service and field research.”
Originally published December 2010