Emory discontinued their contract with volunteer program Jumpstart, in effect this Fall, according to a May 30 statement from the Division of Campus Life.

Jumpstart, a national volunteer program that focuses on preparing children for school, was discontinued this summer after the Jumpstart site manager for Emory, Olivia Wise, decided to resign in order to pursue further professional opportunities, according to the statement.

Although Wise’s decision to resign was not the reason for the closure, it provided OSLS with the opportunity to reevaluate and update their service opportunities. The Division of Campus Life’s decision to discontinue their contract with Jumpstart was therefore a result of the assessments made and feedback data they collected.

To accomplish its mission, Jumpstart works with college students and members of the local community to team up with preschoolers and teach them tools necessary for their educational success, including literary, social and emotional skills.

“The main difference between Jumpstart and a lot of other service programs is that Jumpstart trains us to be not only active service participants but also teachers for these preschoolers,” said College junior and Jumpstart volunteer Jamie Li.

The Division of Campus Life decided not to renew its contract with Jumpstart for the 2014-2015 year after careful examination of the Jumpstart Program and its effect on service at Emory, according to OSLS Associate Director for Community Engagement Lisa Kendall, who is also supervisor to Wise. Specifically, the OSLS reviewed feedback from participating students, the support of the national organization and assessment data collected.

The Division of Campus Life concluded post-assessment that although the Jumpstart program has given Emory students significant and meaningful service opportunities, the program itself was only able to work with a limited number of Emory Students each year, about 50, according to Kendall.

The Jumpstart program first began working with Emory in 2008.

Li said that she is sad to hear that the program is closing, as she believes that the structure and dedication of the people working within Jumpstart is a rarity on a college campus.

“I can honestly say that the positive impact on both the corps members and children is very clear,” Li said.

Fellow volunteer and College junior Becca Oulette said that she was frustrated at the sudden notice of the closure of the program, especially as she was meant to be a team leader this coming fall.

That being said, Oulette explained that she understands Wise’s reasons for resignation and greatly enjoyed her time spent volunteering with the Jumpstart program.

Following this closure, Kendall said that the OSLS will be doing more assessments to determine where gaps exist within their service infrastructure and whether or not more opportunities for service can be created. She also said that the OSLS will use Jumpstart’s departure to expand on preexisting programs, such as Volunteer Emory, within the OSLS.

Students who were volunteering with Jumpstart will be able to continue volunteering with the program itself but will no longer receive the same level of support from Emory, Kendall said.

-By Naomi Maisel

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