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Upstart preschool graduation held at the IRC in June

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An upstart graduate poses with her family during the graduation ceremony at the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City.
An UPSTART graduate poses with her family at the graduation ceremony. Photo: Alaa Al-Barkawi/IRC

Last month, 21 pre-school aged refugee children and their families gathered at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City to celebrate the preschoolers recent accomplishment: graduation from Waterford UPSTART—an online program helping four-year-olds prepare for school. Upstart is a nationally recognized system that allows children of all ages to succeed academically. Each year, Waterford Upstart program partners with the IRC in Salt Lake City in an effort to allow pre-school aged refugee children to enter the United States education system on par with, or above, their native peers. The preschoolers and their families worked through an entire school year to keep up on the program requirements: utilizing the online programming for 15 minutes a day, five days each week.  

Through interactive, online lessons in early reading, math and science, Upstart enhances pre-school aged children’s academic abilities and prepares them to enter kindergarten. In addition to enrollment in the online courses, each family with an Upstart student receives a laptop for the child to use while they are enrolled in Upstart and provides the family with internet access, if needed.

An UPSTART graduate poses with his family at the graduation ceremony at the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City.
An UPSTART graduate poses with his family at the graduation ceremony. Photo: Alaa Al-Barkawi/IRC

On average, these students will enter kindergarten reading at a first-grade level—an advantage that will likely benefit them throughout all of their schooling. In addition to helping children prepare for school, Upstart provides parents with the tools to better invest in their child’s education. Parents of preschool students more readily see the impact of the in-home Upstart program on their children and become familiar with the level of engagement necessary to assist their child in the learning process.

Because of Upstart, 21 kindergartners and families will be better prepared to work with the U.S. education system and support learning throughout their academics. Learn how you can empower refugee families to become self-sufficient by volunteering as a Family Mentor or learn more about our numerous volunteer opportunities by visiting Rescue.org/VolunteerSLC.