Catching Up With Our Bright Start Program

On October 10, 2015, 19 Project Hope Alliance families attended the official launch of our Bright Start Program at the Disneyland Hotel. More than a year later, families and PHA staff gathered again on January 21, 2017, to celebrate the exciting relaunch of the program's academic component that introduced Imagine Learning. The groundbreaking pilot program equips elementary-age children in grades K-3 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, 19 months later, we are seeing amazing results! Here are some updates on the Bright Start Program so far.

CHILDREN + PARENTS + VOLUNTEER MENTORS + PROJECT HOPE ALLIANCE STAFF + IMAGINE LEARNING + EVERY MONDAY MATTERS

The Bright Start Program is a collaborative effort that engages the entire community. 22 students from 22 families attending 16 different schools across Orange and Riverside counties currently participate in the cutting-edge education program. An extraordinary group of 19 mentors volunteer their time each week to meet with the children. PHA staff are always readily available for any support the family needs. Imagine Learning provides their award-winning 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! 

A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

A Bright Start mentoring session in progress.

PARENTS ARE A CRITICAL PARTNER IN THE PROGRAM

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 2016, and there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the program. 100% of parents believe that the monthly parent meetings have been beneficial in supporting their own personal life experience, growth, and development as individuals/parents.

I have to tell you, this is an amazing program. She’s in transitional kindergarten, she’s 5, and she knows what 7 + 9 is! I think it’s amazing.
— Bright Start Parent
He knows all the words. That’s how I know the program is working. He now finishes his homework in only 10-15 minutes.
— Bright Start Parent

100% OF FAMILIES FEEL THAT THE BRIGHT START PROGRAM HAS CONTRIBUTED TO ACADEMIC GAINS FOR THEIR CHILDREN

A Bright Start student plays a game during a Collective "Imagine It" Dinner.

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 Imagine 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. Both the multi-lingual Imagine Learning program (language and literacy) and its Imagine Math sister program (mathematical literacy) are 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 an Imagine Learning 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 26,367 minutes on the Imagine Learning reading and math programs, with each student having completed an average of 1,198.50 total minutes on the online software. Eight students have completed more than 1,500 minutes, and one child has completed more than 2,000 minutes! All of these minutes are paying off. Based on progress reports from Imagine Learning, 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 4 MONTHS, STUDENTS HAVE:

  • Completed 4,585 activities
  • Mastered 642 sight words
  • Learned 500 vocabulary words
  • Read 395 books
  • Averaged 85% in vocabulary performance

Additionally, one student has made 100% progress in the addition curriculum, and two students have completed the addition portion! 

My mentor has influenced me by teaching me spelling, reading, and how to write stories.
— Bright Start Student
Since beginning Bright Start, I’ve become better in school by three levels! And I’ve become a role model for my siblings. It’s helped me learn a lot.
— Bright Start Student

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 more than 19 months, adding up to a total of 866 mentoring sessions and more than 1,299 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, themes from the Every Monday Matters curriculum include "Cross Cultures," "Practice Patience," and "Invent New Ideas." 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. 

Jackson is very smart, and he is already reading simple words quite well. He seems very curious and has a great appetite for learning.
— Bright Start Mentor
The girls did not want to end our session. They asked me if we could do this every day.
— Bright Start Mentor

A BRIGHT FUTURE

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 expanding Soaring to Success, our extension of Bright Start that serves children in grades 3-6. In fall 2016, two Bright Start students graduated and "flew up" to Soaring to Success.