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Free, TED-funded early education program available to Oregon 4-year-olds

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Families in Oregon now have a new option to prepare their children for kindergarten at home -- and at no cost. Thanks to generous donations made through the TED Organization, is bringing the Waterford Upstart program to Oregon. 

Each year, 2.2 million 4-year-old children in the United States do not have access to publicly funded early education, and more than half are low-income children with no early education options at all. Waterford is one of eight nonprofit organizations in the world named a 2019 TED Audacious Project. As a part of this recognition, the organization was tasked with reaching more 4-year-olds in need, including 200 children in Oregon.

“When a child begins school behind his or her peers, it’s very hard to catch up. An at-home solution like Waterford Upstart has proven to be not only effective in educating our youngest learners, but also a necessity for many families,” said Kim Fischer, national spokesperson for “Waterford Upstart meets families where they are, so they can feel confident their children will walk into their first day of kindergarten prepared and ready to learn.”

Waterford Upstart is an in-home, early education program that prepares four-year-old children for kindergarten. Families are given the tools they need to be their child’s first and most influential teachers, including a computer and internet at no cost.

The program provides positive adult-child interactions while delivering personalized, online instruction 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Families are also given support through a family coach as well as tips to continue engaging their children offline. On average, 92% of children who participate in Waterford Upstart are ready for kindergarten—compared to a 65% average nationwide and 48% for low-income children.

“I was a little skeptical at first of my 5-year-old grandson being on a computer, but this program is phenomenal,” said Laurie Danzuka, Jefferson County School Board Chair, and grandmother of a Waterford Upstart graduate. “I didn’t feel like he was getting the science, math, and reading instruction in preschool that he needed, and reading is everything. Waterford Upstart really boosted his learning and, more importantly, his interest in learning. My grandson is now in kindergarten and he loves to learn! He’s so far ahead of the game.”

You can now apply for Waterford Upstart, but spots are limited and restrictions apply. Children must enter kindergarten in fall 2022. Families can register right now for this at-home, no-cost project by visiting  

### is an early education nonprofit with a mission to achieve universal literacy for children through equity, access, and parent empowerment. Waterford develops educational tools that guide students along adaptive, individualized learning paths toward fluent reading and lifelong learning. We empower parents as a child’s first teacher, and we support teachers in taking the right actions at the right time for their students. In total, serves more than 300,000 children every year through all of our programs, and that number is continually growing.

Waterford Upstart

Waterford Upstart helps four-year-old children prepare for school at home and at no cost. Children develop foundational reading and social-emotional skills, and families are empowered to become their child’s first and most influential teachers. The children use adaptive software just 15 minutes a day, five days a week in the year before they start school. Waterford Upstart also fuels family involvement in their child’s early education through family coaches and fun educational activities parents can complete with their children offline. Waterford Upstart has been rigorously tested and proven, earning the program a federal EIR grant and the title of a TED Audacious project. Independent research shows the average Waterford Upstart graduate enters kindergarten reading at nearly a first-grade level and maintains those gains through the fourth grade.


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