Innovative At-Home Pre-K Program Gaining National Momentum

Waterford Institute’s UPSTART program helps diverse children prepare for kindergarten

SALT LAKE CITY--()--Waterford Institute’s UPSTART program is set to become a nationally recognized, go-to solution for states that are dedicated to closing early learning gaps by preparing preschool-age children for kindergarten.

UPSTART, the technology-delivered in-home academic program was first established and proven effective in a statewide implementation in Utah. It is now under consideration by Idaho, undergoing piloting in South Carolina, and was recently endorsed by the Mexican Consulate for Utah and Wyoming as a critical community resource for English language learners (ELL). Adding to this growing list of acknowledgements, last week the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced UPSTART as a finalist in the 2015 SIIA CODiE Awards for Best Virtual Learning Solution.

“UPSTART is a highly effective program that teaches essential early literacy skills for preschool-age children,” said Claudia Miner, UPSTART director. “The program has been extremely successful in Utah and is gaining momentum and recognition in many new areas. Other states are now either piloting or considering funding for UPSTART in their early learning programs.”

Utah families can pre-register for UPSTART at or 800-669-4533 for the upcoming program year, beginning in late summer.

In South Carolina, 70 preschoolers from three preschool centers around the state started using UPSTART as an in-home, pilot program that will continue through August. The partnership allows Waterford to evaluate pilot outcomes through participant usage data, parent satisfaction and assessment scores using the Waterford Assessments of Core Skills.

“Providing a cost effective, transformative program for preschool-aged children is a game changer in early learning,” said Benjamin Heuston, Waterford’s president and COO. “When investing in education at the pre-K level, children get the foundation they need to be successful learners throughout their lives.”

There are several other states interested in UPSTART as a school readiness program. In Idaho, Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, introduced a bill to fund UPSTART in parts of the state.

“This is probably about the best [program] I’ve heard in a long time,” said Boyle. “I think those four-year-olds deserve this opportunity.”

This year, the Utah Legislature approved an additional $1 million to UPSTART with the passage of its 2015 Education Budget. This increase adds at least 1,000 more spaces for children throughout the state, taking the number of Utah preschoolers who use UPSTART to 15 percent.

"UPSTART is a game changer for any school, district or state trying to improve education outcomes and close early learning gaps,” said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. “Preschoolers who use it are learning at two to three times the pace of their peers, regardless of socioeconomic status. The State of Utah has doubled funding due to its proven ability to improve academic scores, while keeping costs low and reaching children most in need. "

Eduardo Arnal, Mexico’s Utah consul, endorsed UPSTART as an important resource in the Latino community. UPSTART can help Spanish-speaking preschoolers with language skills before kindergarten.

“UPSTART works hard to provide equity in education,” said Arnal. “It helps children to have a good start in school and that is especially important if your children are just barely beginning to learn the English language. Beyond helping master the English language, it’s also going to help them feel a lot more confident when they start school.”


UPSTART is a free in-home, computer-based preschool program developed by Waterford Institute, which provides adaptive learning lessons in reading, math and science. It teaches essential early literacy skills at the pace and level of each individual child, and its bilingual user support team partners with parents to prepare children for kindergarten. In an effort to bring equity to education, UPSTART prioritizes low-income families as well as ELL, giving all children a chance to succeed in learning. Computers and Internet are available to families who cannot afford them during UPSTART. For more information, visit or call 800–669–4533.

About Waterford

Waterford Institute is a nonprofit research center that creates personalized cloud-based instruction through award-winning curriculum, content and assessment for children aged pre-K to 2nd grade. As a nonprofit, Waterford is uniquely focused on providing accessibility, equity and excellence for our youngest learners to position them for a lifetime of learning and success. For more information, visit or call 801-349-2200.


for Waterford Institute
A. Cory Maloy, 801-994-9625

Release Summary

UPSTART is a highly effective program that teaches essential early literacy skills for preschool-age children.


for Waterford Institute
A. Cory Maloy, 801-994-9625