Through an Education Innovation Research (EIR) Grant awarded by the US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, Idaho will join five states in piloting the Waterford UPSTART program, an at-home kindergarten readiness computer program which has been used in Utah and other states for the past several years. Supporting the belief that learning begins at home, the program is designed to help parents be their child’s first teacher. The program and support staff will be provided at no cost to families.

For the upcoming 2019-2020 school year beginning this fall, 200 families will be accepted into the program. Those families have already been chosen; however, Waterford will be recruiting 400 families for the 2020-2021 school year. Library staff can help recruit those families in the library and through outreach now.

ICfL is supporting the recruitment of Idaho families in the pilot for the following reasons:

  • The program targets children in the year before kindergarten (they are recruiting families with three-year-olds now for the 2020-2021 year).
  • Technology is provided at no cost to qualifying participants, and all families are paired with a Family Education Liaison (FEL), who provides personalized updates, guidance, and encouragement.
  • Waterford UPSTART will provide a FREE Chromebook (which families may keep upon completion of the program if all requirements are met), as well as internet while families are enrolled in the program (must qualify).
  • A version of the software is available in Spanish and other languages.

Other details of interest:

  • The program contains over 450 hours of sequenced reading and math/science instruction.
  • Children will be assigned a reading or math and science curriculum at random and the usage requirement is 15-20 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • When there is an UPSTART child in the home, they also make the software available to other children in the home who can use the additional practice in reading or math/science.
  • The software range is pre-K through second grade.
  • While the software is in English, support is available in Spanish and other languages as needed. They have supported the program in 21 languages to date, and state that they have experience working with refugee families.
  • UPSTART assesses the children at the beginning and end of the program to provide outcome information to parents and stakeholders, maintaining the child’s confidentiality unless otherwise specified in data-sharing agreements approved by the child’s guardian.
  • To be eligible for the 2020-2021 program year, children must have a birth date that falls withing the following range: 09/16/2015 – 09/15/2016

To find out more about UPSTART, including studies conducted by the company regarding the program’s effectiveness, see

Two flyers are provided for you to display in your library or take to your outreach partners, one in English and one in Spanish. The pre-registration information is included on those. The direct link is:

Questions about this program may be directed to:
Isaac Troyo
Director of National UPSTART Program Implementations, Waterford Research Institute