Catching Up With Bright Start

A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

On October 10, 2015, nineteen PHA families attended the official launch of our Bright Start Program at the Disneyland hotel. The Bright Start program provides each child with a laptop that allows a structured, research based learning experience; the love and support of a caring volunteer mentor; and finally the program serves to empower parents with skills and strategies to best advocate for their early learners. Now, four months later, we are already seeing results. Here are some updates on the Bright Start Program so far!

Children, Parents, Volunteer Mentors, Project Hope Alliance Staff, Waterford Early Learning, and Every Monday Matters

The Bright Start Program is a collaborative effort that engages the entire community. 26 students from 19 families are currently in the Bright Start Program. There are 19 mentors who volunteer their time each week to meet with the children. PHA staff is always readily available for any support the family needs. Waterford Early Learning has provided an innovative online program and regularly tracks the students' usage and progress. And Every Monday Matters empowers the children and families with weekly and monthly curriculum. It takes a village! 

Parents are a critical partner in the program

Each month at PHA headquarters, all the Bright Start families come together for a Collective "Imagine It" Dinner. It is a chance for them to collaborate, share best practices, and learn how they can best advocate for their children in schools. This two hour event is made possible with the support of PHA staff and volunteers, and discussion facilitated by Every Monday Matters. There is also a celebration for each child who has a birthday in that month, where they receive a gift and get to blow out candles. 

We have seen families connect and build friendships after attending the monthly dinners. Parents were surveyed on their experience with Bright Start at the Collective "Imagine It" Dinner in January. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the program. 78% of families feel that the Bright Start Program has contributed to social and emotional growth for their children. . 

We love the Bright Start Program so much we have [our daughter] logging on all 7 days a week! She loves it!
— A Bright Start Parent
I love the meetings because it’s so nice to have adult time, and to be encouraged to be the best version of myself.
— A Bright Start Parent On Collective "Imagine It" Dinners

100% of families feel that the Bright Start Program has contributed to academic gains for their children

Each child's laptop is equipped with the Waterford Early Learning Program that provides instruction in Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies, as well as internet access anywhere they go. The Waterford Early Learning Program is personalized to each child's individual needs and level of understanding, allowing them to learn at their own pace. Each family is assigned a PHA coordinator and a Waterford coach who are readily available for both academic and technical support. Classroom teachers have also met with the PHA coordinator and received an overview of the program so that they are aware of what their young students are experiencing. They are consistently receiving updates with data and reports on students' progress. An annual Teacher Summit is being planned for the Spring to give teachers, related nonprofits, and educational partners an opportunity to engage and collaborate on ideas on how to make sure the children have what they need to succeed. To date, our Bright Start students have each completed an average of 43 total hours on the online software. There is even one young learner who has completed 84 hours! That's an average of 5 hours of learning outside of the classroom each week! All these hours are paying off. Based on progress reports from Waterford, we can see that literacy rates have skyrocketed with our students, and the classroom teachers agree.

The program is a great complement to her learning in the classroom setting: it adds new layers to her schooling.
— A Bright Start Parent
An art project from a mentoring session. 

An art project from a mentoring session. 

Bright Start children create You Matter collages.

Bright Start children create You Matter collages.

Every parent surveyed would recommend the Bright Start Program to another parent and family at PHA 

Students and their mentors have now been meeting for 15 weeks, adding up to a total of 30 hours. The mentoring sessions allow each child to deepen their understanding of their own self-worth, grow in their awareness of social responsibility, and build a stronger sense of confidence. For example, this month's theme from the Every Monday Matter Curriculum is "Get Motivated" which is inviting children to "see what we can do... and then do it some more". Through storytelling, arts and crafts, and social interactions with their mentor, each Bright Start student is able to have special experiences that contribute to their social and emotional growth. Not only do the children have fun at their mentoring sessions, but the mentors are overjoyed with the unique and personal connection they are developing with their students. 

She loves these sessions and I think they benefit her a lot. When she was asked what she was grateful for, she wrote down most of her family members’ names, my name and Sam Cressey’s name, which I thought was awesome.
— Kaylin, Bright Start Mentor
Today is Monday, that means I have two more days until I see my mentor, Shawn!
— A Bright Start Student
I don’t want to take a break for Christmas holidays, Can I meet with Lizbeth even though I don’t have school?
— A Bright Start Student

Project Hope Alliance is thrilled to see how this program has taken off and become a great success. We look forward to continue seeing the Bright Start Program grow.

Interested in supporting the Bright Start Program with your donation? Contact Suzy Gardner to find out how.

Want to learn more and become a Bright Start mentor? Contact Sam Cressey for more information.