01/10/2013 09:48 am ET Updated Mar 12, 2013

When Children Start School Behind, They Stay Behind

Imagine starting a race knowing everyone will get a head start, except for you. Not exactly fair, is it? But for many children, this isn't too far off from reality.

That's because there are millions of children living in poverty who are not getting the high-quality early learning opportunities they deserve. When children start school behind, they stay behind -- and most never catch up. By adulthood, our nation sees an increase in high school dropout rates, incarceration, and countless other remediation programs.

While these statistics are unsettling, we believe there's a clear solution and it starts with Jumpstart. Through our research-based, cost-effective program, we train college students and community volunteers to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods, both in the D.C. metro area and across the country. Our proven curriculum helps children develop the language, literacy and social skills they need to be ready for kindergarten, setting them on a path for lifelong success.

At Jumpstart, we envision the day when every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. But we can't do it alone. The success of our program stems from close collaborations with early learning and higher education partners, in addition to partnerships with foundations, individuals and corporations, including The Boeing Company.

Through a $40,000 grant award from Boeing, Jumpstart will bring its Community Corps program to D.C. This program trains older adults to serve young children ages three to five and places them in preschool classrooms in low-income neighborhoods. The generous support from Boeing will enable Jumpstart to serve additional children in Wards 7 and 8, where the rate of childhood poverty is more than 40 percent. District of Columbia Public Schools Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS) scores show the deep disparity in educational outcomes for children who live east of the Anacostia River: in Wards 7 and 8, only 33 percent and 28 percent of children had passing scores on the CAS, compared to 84 percent of children in Ward 3.

Boeing understands the critical need to lift up our youngest citizens. Tom Bartlett, community investor for Boeing's Global Corporate Citizenship organization in the Washington, DC area, has stated, "This new partnership with Jumpstart is one example of how Boeing can improve the lives of children in communities where our employees live and work by contributing resources to help create a dedicated volunteer network of retirees who can help them with early learning fundamentals."

We are very excited to welcome Boeing as a partner. Boeing's investment in Jumpstart demonstrates their commitment to D.C.'s children. We look forward to launching Community Corps and taking an important step toward fulfilling our mission: to work toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.

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Katey Comerford is the Executive Director of Jumpstart in Washington, D.C. where she provides local leadership for Jumpstart, a national early education organization.