DePaul students raising money to save Jumpstart program for preschoolers

Another education program is facing cuts after federal dollars were slashed. 

The program is called Jumpstart and connects college students with under-privileged preschoolers, educating them and giving them one-on-one attention. 

The program has helped thousands of kids through the years, but that may have to come to an end.

Jumpstart programs are at colleges around the country. In Chicago, the DePaul program alone has impacted 2,500 preschoolers. 

One DePaul student said that she's personally touched the lives of 60 kids, and it's more than teaching them the alphabet.

“I want them to know that you can make something of yourself and that with the proper resources and skills, that it's not their fault, but once you have those resources then you are able to go forward with your life and become something,” said Jumpstart corp member Shontell Burch. 

She said Jumpstart benefits her, knowing she's making a difference, just as much as it does the kids. The program trains college students to teach preschoolers literacy and language skills in under-resourced communities. 

The DePaul senior said the Illinois budget cuts couldn't have come at a worse time.

“Education is really important, especially with the education crisis with the CPS budget cuts,” said Burch. 

“Sophia loved Jumpstart,” said Lucero Cervantes, mother of 4-year-old Sophia. 

She said that Jumpstart is vital.

Sophia has 20 classmates and three teachers, and with Jumpstart there are six other adults in the classroom giving the kids more one-on-one time.

“Especially the communities that they are with, it is low income communities where the kids may not receive that attention because the parents don't have the money to pay for it,” said Cervantes. 

DePaul's Jumpstart program helps six facilities around the city, including Erie House in West Town.  

Francine Hernandez got her start with Jumpstart. 

“In Chicago specifically I've witnessed first-hand that positive impact it has on our little ones,” said Francine Hernandez. 

She now works full time at Erie House and explains that college students are more than just teachers. 

“They train about how to talk positively to children, even if their behaving not so great, we still have to talk to them in a positive way, help guide them,” said Hernandez. 

The DePaul Jumpstart program is losing about $125,000 in federal funding, and now they are going online to raise a few bucks.

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