SALT LAKE CITY – Millions of dollars in new state and federal funding is expected to help thousands of Utah children get an educational head start. Claudia Miner, vice president of development with the nonprofit Waterford Institute, said over the next year, her organization’s <a href=”http://www.utahupstart.org/” target=”parent”>UPSTART</a> program could help an additional 6,700 kids in Utah learn at home before starting school.
UPSTART stands for “Utah Preparing Students Today for a Rewarding Tomorrow.” It provides educational software, computers and Internet access to 4-year-old children in low-income and rural households, Miner said.
“UPSTART is over 450 hours of instruction – there are books with guided reading, there’s the alphabet, there are phonics-related things – and it’s all individualized,” Miner explained.
Utah lawmakers approved an additional $3 million in funding for UPSTART in this year’s legislative session, bringing total state funding to $4.7 million per year. Miner said the federal government is also providing a grant of more than $11 million for UPSTART to be tested in Utah’s rural school districts.
The program started five years ago and has helped about 7,000 children learn at home before starting school, she said, adding that research shows that kids who get UPSTART training are up to three times better prepared for school than children not in the program.
“There are so many studies that show if a child is ready to go to school, ready to learn, that they will do better in school. They will pass their tests, they will be promoted – they will, you know, have a better chance of going to college,” Miner said.
The program’s website is <a href=”http://www.utahupstart.org/” target=”parent”>www.utahupstart.org</a>.