Catching Up With Bright Start

 A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

On October 10, 2015, 19 Project Hope Alliance families attended the official launch of our Bright Start Program at the Disneyland Hotel. The groundbreaking pilot program equips elementary-age children in grades K-2 with a take-home laptop that promotes a structured, research-based learning experience; provides the love and support of a caring volunteer mentor; and serves to empower parents with skills and strategies to best advocate for their early learners. Now, 9 months later, we are seeing amazing results! Here are some updates on the Bright Start Program so far.


The Bright Start Program is a collaborative effort that engages the entire community. 22 students from 17 families attending 15 different schools across Orange County currently participate in the cutting-edge education program. An extraordinary group of 14 mentors volunteer their time each week to meet with the children. PHA staff are always readily available for any support the family needs. Waterford Early Learning provides their nationally acclaimed online academic curriculum and regularly tracks the students' usage and progress. Every Monday Matters empowers the children and families with weekly and monthly inspirational curriculum. It takes a village! 


Each month at our office, all of our Bright Start families come together for a Collective "Imagine It" Dinner. The event serves as a chance for them to collaborate, share best practices, and learn how they can best advocate for their children in school. This two-hour gathering is made possible with the support of PHA staff and volunteers, and discussion is facilitated by Every Monday Matters. Dinners also include festivities for each child celebrating a birthday that month, where they receive a gift and blow out candles. 

We have witnessed families connect and build rewarding friendships after attending the monthly dinners. Parents were surveyed on their experience with Bright Start in June, and there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the program. 100% of parents feel supported by PHA.

My kid taught himself the days of the week so that he would know when his mentor was coming.
— A Bright Start Parent
I am so grateful for the support you are giving my daughter and for exposing her to things she would not have access to.
— A Bright Start Parent


 A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

Bright Start's self-esteem and confidence-building goal is for 80% of parents to affirm that the program contributes to academic gains and socio-emotional growth for their child. We've almost hit our goal: 78% of families feel that the Bright Start Program has contributed to social and emotional growth for their children.

Each child's laptop is equipped with the Waterford Early Learning academic curriculum that provides instruction in Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies, as well as internet access anywhere they go via built-in Wi-Fi. 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 also being planned 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 logged a total of 129,144.87 minutes on the Waterford Learning Program, with each student having completed an average of 5,000 total minutes on the online software. Three students have completed more than 10,000 minutes! All of these minutes 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 academic goal is for 95-100% of Bright Start students to demonstrate improved academic progress year-round.

In 9 months:

  • Average student growth is well over 3/4 of a school year in English and just under 1 full year in Math and Science.
  • Average student shows growth of 82.5% in English and 96% in Math.
  • 3 children avoided being held back a grade.
  • 3 children have improved over a full grade level in Math and Science.
  • 1 child completed the Bright Start Program, logging over 586 minutes in 1 week!
You can definitely see the effect that your program is having on him. It’s great to see him progress.
— Teacher Of A Bright Start Student


Students and their mentors have now been meeting for 9 months, adding up to a total of 553 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, upcoming themes from the Every Monday Matters curriculum include "Be Your Biggest Fan," "Be of Service," and "Stand Tall." 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. 

During my time spent with Kate and James, I noticed huge growth in their confidence. They both spoke with more certainty, asked thought-provoking questions, and expressed themselves through creativity. James’ confidence and ability with his reading also grew immensely. Kate grew to be more confident with her writing and spelling. It was amazing to create rituals and form meaningful relationships with both Kate and James, as well as their mom Stacey.
— A Bright Start Mentor
Lisa is the best. Can I see her more often?
— A Bright Start Student
I am always so excited to see them. I love meeting with them and I have truly seen such progress in their learning.
— A Bright Start Mentor


We are thrilled with the success of our Bright Start Program so far, and look forward to continue watching it flourish. Development plans include scaling up the program both locally and nationally, as well as launching a program for Bright Start "graduates."