Utah Pre-Schools


UPSTART is unlike any other kindergarten readiness program in the nation. UPSTART gives families an easy–to–use, at–home kindergarten readiness program that will start their children on the path to success in school.

The Importance of Early Education

Recent research demonstrates that success in school depends on what happens before kindergarten. Simple activities like reading to a preschooler, singing nursery rhymes, and learning the alphabet can set the stage for a lifetime of success.

Parents today often do not have the time or resources to engage in these important activities with their children. Some parents even wonder if they have the know–how to work with their children. The result is many children enter kindergarten unprepared to learn and make the most of their school experience. Some children succeed in spite of these challenges. But far too many fail.

The Challenge

Many local governments fund pre-k programs to give children in their area the best start possible. But there are challenges associated with publicly funded pre-k including cost, the limited number of well–qualified preschool teachers, concerns about transportation for children, and formal schooling at an early age.

Waterford Institute’s Solution

In 2009, Waterford Institute launched the UPSTART pilot program in the state of Utah. More than 7,000 families participated in the program during its first five years. By the sixth year, over 13,000 families had enrolled in UPSTART. The pilot program was a huge success, and Waterford has now expanded the availability of UPSTART to local governments and school districts across the U.S.

Waterford’s program provides world–class reading, math, and science instruction as well as a program to assess and remediate young children. Waterford’s curriculum has been:

  • Allowing children to access education from home
  • Costing less than traditional preschools
  • Providing research–based, proven, complete instruction
  • Engaging children with fun activities
  • Testing each child’s progress
  • Giving families the support needed to succeed
  • Fitting into families’ busy schedules

Participating families not only receive Waterford’s proven curriculum, but they also receive extensive support to keep motivated and make the most of this learning opportunity.

Waterford believes that children’s first and most important teachers are their parents and family. UPSTART is designed to give these first teachers the tools to prepare their preschoolers for a lifetime of learning.

UPSTART Advisory Committee

Jennifer Throndsen

Literacy Coordinator, Utah State Office of Education

Chuck Foster

American Indian Education Specialist, ESEA/Federal Programs, Utah State Office of Education

Bill Hulterstrom

President and CEO, United Way of Utah County

Nancy Livingston

Emeritus Professor, School of Education, Brigham Young University

Joanne Milner

Education Partnership Coordinator, Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Office

Claudia Miner

Vice President of Development, Waterford Institute

Gonzalo Palza

CEO and Head Start Director, Centro de la Familia de Utah

Kathleen Petersen

Title I Director, Washington County School District

Tami Pyfer

Education Advisor to Governor, Utah Governor’s Office

Dale Smith

Associate Dean of Education, Family and Human Studies, Salt Lake Community College

Cheryl Wright

Associate Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah

Dustin Heuston
ex officio

Waterford Institute