Urban Edge joins community partners to kick-off Pre-K Readiness program for families in Jackson Square

Families First Parenting Programs, Baraka Community Wellness, Jumpstart, and Union Capital Boston provide their services for this new program

Boston, MA (Monday, December 14th, 2015): Over the past five years, research on childhood education shows that schools are under-performing when it comes to student preparedness for academic success. Urban Edge wants to help increase the performance of students and schools in the Jackson Square area, strengthening the community. Urban Edge has teamed up with Union Capital Boston, Families First Parenting Programs, Baraka Wellness, and Jumpstart to create a pre-k readiness program and incorporate comprehensive wellness approaches through healthier habits.

“The goal of the program is to increase children’s development gains, as well as provide caregivers with the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare their children for Kindergarten,” says Robert Torres, Associate Director of Community Engagement at Urban Edge. “We’re excited to provide these vital services to young moms that weren’t available to them before.”

This pre-k readiness model is also designed to assist the entire family, and to provide an opportunity for parents to help develop children’s literacy skills, expose preschool children to a school setting, build parenting skills and knowledge about child development, and build social cohesion amongst families.

“Jumpstart is so excited to collaborate with these great partners in providing critical kindergarten-readiness skills and knowledge to children and families,” says Jumpstart’s Regional Vice President Mark Reilly. “This innovative dual-generation approach holds great promise for enhancing the academic and life chances of the children in the program, and Jumpstart is pleased to devote its expertise and programming to help make it a success.”

This program will utilize Urban Edge’s relationships with residents living within affordable housing and Jumpstart’s experience with early education in order to bolster language skills and the social/emotional development of children 0-5 years old, and increase the knowledge and skills of caregivers’ of these children. The program began on Wednesday, October 27th, and will meet at Urban Edge on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Jumpstart is a national early education organization working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Jumpstart delivers a research-based and cost-effective program by training college students and community volunteers to serve preschool-age children in under-resourced neighborhoods. Through a proven curriculum, these children develop the language, literacy, and social-emotional skills they need to be ready for kindergarten, setting them on a path for lifelong success. This year in Boston, Jumpstart will engage more than 500 volunteers serving more than 1400 preschool children. Jumpstart is also a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit http://www.jstart.org.

Baraka Community Wellness (BCW) designs and manages comprehensive, integrated evidence-based wellness solutions for healthcare agencies, nonprofit organizations, employers, their workforces and the communities they serve. BCW implements wellness solutions that deliver measurable results with lasting positive health outcomes that reduce risk, enhance health, increase productivity and reduce healthcare costs. BCW’s core expertise is in delivering wellness programs that are evidenced-based and founded upon practical solutions that are low cost, medically proven, and sustainable. The mothers involved in this program will participate in BCW’s Healthy Moms Healthy Kids! Initiative, specifically designed for young mothers and their children. Fitness, nutrition, and social support services are the pillars of Healthy Moms Healthy Kids, in which BCW will empower mothers to learn healthy life skills and help put mothers on the path to self-sufficiency. For more information, visit http://barakawellness.org/.

Union Capital Boston (UCB) transforms social capital into opportunity by rewarding community. They are a mobile-based loyalty program for low-income families that provides social and financial service rewards in exchange for community involvement in schools, health centers, and civic programs. Every time a parent attends a pre-k readiness class, they check in via the app provided by UCB. Residents accumulate points for each check-in, which can be redeemed for gift cards and other prizes at the end of the program. For more information, visit http://www.unioncapitalboston.org/.

Families First: Poverty and homelessness can keep kids from reaching their full potential, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When parents take an active role in their children’s development, they help to promote their children’s mental, emotional, and physical health and break the cycle of poverty for their families. For more than 27 years, Families First has been a leader in parenting education in the Greater Boston area, providing high-quality parenting education that promotes the secure, nurturing parent-child relationships that are the foundation of every child’s well-being and future success. Families First’s vision is that every child is secure, confident, resilient, and able to seize opportunities and succeed. For more information, visit http://www.families-first.org/.

Photo Credit: Kara Delahunt, courtesy of Families First