Starbucks Brews Literacy Program
In 1993, two college students from Yale University came up with the simple idea of engaging young people in service to work towards combating illiteracy starting at the most crucial of stages: preschool. This year, the program moves to UCI.
Jumpstart, a nationally recognized non-profit organization, focuses on college students providing one-on-one interaction with struggling preschool students in low-income areas.
In 2001, Starbucks began a four-year one-million dollar commitment to aid in the continuation of Jumpstart’s work with preschoolers, families and college students, as well as to expand Jumpstart’s work in new communities.
‘Jumpstart has the same philosophy as Starbucks which led us to become corporate neighbors with them,’ said Kevin Carothers, community affairs manager for Starbucks.
Forty-one UCI students either working towards Federal Work Study or course credit were selected to be part of ‘Jumpstart Irvine’ for the 2003-04 school year.
‘The duration of the program’s existence here at UCI is indefinite right now,’ said Emily Slusser, site manager for Jumpstart.
‘We would like to expand the program by recruiting more undergraduates.’
The 41 students will be placed into four teams depending on their availability during the week. Two teams will go to one of two preschools in the Costa Mesa and Santa Ana School Districts twice a week for four hours.
At the preschools, college students will work one-on-one with children to develop in areas such as communication, language, literacy and social skills.
‘This is the age where it’s important to develop the necessary skills to succeed,’ said Bryan Jeon, a first-year criminology major and volunteer for Jumpstart.
According to Jumpstart, about 50 percent of all children from low income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers in preschool skills. A child’s performance in preschool is directly linked to their success in the future.
‘[Jumpstart] is a great opportunity to make a positive impact on a child’s life,’ said Julie Jeon, a fourth-year sociology major and volunteer for Jumpstart.
The kickoff event featured a demonstration of the various hands-on activities that Jumpstart students will participate in during the program.
As another contribution to the program, Starbucks has also introduced the Starbucks card ‘Duetto’ Visa which acts as a ‘rewards’ card allowing customers to accumulate one percent of ‘Duetto Dollars’ for every Visa purchase. The accumulated points can then be used at a Starbucks location.
‘From October to December of this year, Starbucks will donate $5 to Jumpstart for every Duetto card that is activated nationwide,’ Carothers said.
The UCI students participating in Jumpstart are either on Federal Work-Study or are volunteering for course credit. Those on Federal Work-Study will receive a $1,000 grant at the end of the year provided that they spend 300 hours during the year at the preschool.
However, volunteers and students working for course credit will contribute 200 hours and will not receive a grant at the end of the year.
Due to federal budget cuts, some students did not receive Federal Work-Study and as a result, could not be eligible for the grant.
‘I was disappointed because I didn’t get the grant but I know this is for a good cause so it’s not bad,’ said Florence Guzman, a third-year psychology major and Jumpstart volunteer.
Most of the students involved in the program are interested in pursuing a career in education or want the experience of working with children.
Christina Green, a fourth-year physics major and employee for Starbucks, commented on the company’s involvement in giving back to the local community.
‘I think there’s a good balance between business and giving back,’ Green said.
Currently, the company also sponsors toy drives for Christmas and blood drives throughout the year.
The event also featured a variety of Starbuck’s gourmet coffees and pastries.
Those in attendance included representatives from Jumpstart and representatives from Starbucks.