University of Rochester

University Students Tutor Children at First Rochester Jumpstart Site

November 12, 2003

Rochester’s place in the national enrichment and literacy program called Jumpstart will pair 20 University of Rochester undergraduates with preschool children at the Carlson MetroCenter YMCA of Greater Rochester. The one-on-one tutoring, which begins this month, prepares the children for kindergarten and gives the students money toward college expenses.

For at least 10 hours each week, the college students help the children enhance literacy, language, and social skills. They also become part-time AmeriCorps members, earn a work-study award, and access to other career opportunities following graduation.

“College students get the chance to change a child’s life while building their own leadership and teamwork skills, and gaining vital professional experience,” said Michelle Werth, site manager at Jumpstart Rochester. The commitment continues for one year and can be renewed.

Since Wilson Days during freshman orientation, University of Rochester students volunteer regularly for community service programs; those range from organizing dozens of fundraisers to helping children, teenagers, and adults directly through service projects. The Jumpstart venture builds on the University’s recognized commitment to service with a more formal arrangement tied to financial support.

Founded six years ago, Jumpstart emphasizes the need for quality early childhood education by involving college students. Forty-four universities and colleges are current Jumpstart partners. (Details on the Web at

In Rochester, the children are enrolled in the MetroCenter YMCA’s child care program and live in the surrounding area. Besides working as individual tutors in the classroom biweekly, the students assist the preschool teacher to benefit all children.

“Jumpstart offers college students a positive experience with preschool children, which impacts the lives of the children involved, builds their chances for success in school, and strengthens the neighborhood,” said Burton Nadler, director of the College Career Center where the Jumpstart office is located. From a career perspective, he noted, Jumpstart shows students the kind of job opportunities available in teaching and leadership in early children education.

Students selected for the program receive training, and will interact with the children’s families as the year progresses. University of Rochester students interested in Jumpstart can contact Werth at (585) 275-2366 or e-mail her at