Spotlight on Operation Jump Start

share this: recently spoke with Erik Miller, Program Manager of Operation Jump Start, via email. They talked about the inspirations and challenges of running a nonprofit organization in Long Beach.

How long has Operation Jump Start been around? Did it start in Long Beach?

Operation Jump Start has been around for 18 years as it was founded in 1994. The program was started in Long Beach (Bixby Knolls)

Describe Operation Jump Start . Tell us a little about your nonprofit, your mission, the people you serve or your goals.

Operation Jump Start (OJS) is a 1 to 1 mentoring program the works with youth in 6th – 12 grade from the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD). The mission of OJS is to provide structure and resources for disadvantaged youth to reach their potential through a college education.

How is Operation Jump Start different from similar nonprofits?

OJS like many other mentoring programs in Long Beach believes in the impact a positive role model can have on a child. We differ from many of the other programs as we also emphasize the importance of a higher education with providing them with all of the resources to help them reach their educational goals (free computer, tutoring, SAT prep, etc).

How is Operation Jump Start involved with the community?

Our organization is very involved in the community as we have volunteered with Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Long Beach Marathon, the MLK Peace Garden, and Bolsa Chica Wetlands. OJS has also worked with local service clubs Rotary, Toastmasters, and Kiwanas. Along with these items every student in our program attends a school within LBUSD.

What are some of the biggest successes Operation Jump Start has had?

OJS has had a number of great successes over the years but none greater than having 3 consecutive OJS graduating classes attend a 4 year university right after high school! All of these students were the first in their family to do so. We have also provided over $200,000 in scholarship money to our graduates over the years.

What is the most rewarding part of running Operation Jump Start?

One of the most rewarding parts of what we do at Operation Jump Start is not only seeing the children go on and receive their degree, but also watching them be successful adults. We have multiple OJS graduates who have come back to be mentors after they have graduated college. We have also had OJS graduates on staff.

What are the challenges you face — as a nonprofit, as an advocacy group, or in your industry?

Our greatest challenge as an organization is recruitment of mentors. Our mentors are community volunteers that just want to give back to their community. Due to tough economic times, people are forced to work even more hours, which reduces their availability to volunteer.

What are the future plans for Operation Jump Start?

OJS serves over 75 students each year. Our goal is to double this number as there are plenty of students in our community that can use positive guidance during these tough times

Do you have any special events or fundraisers you’d like to tell us about?

OJS is a 501(c)3 non-profit that is 100% dependent upon the donations of foundations and private donors. To continue serving our students we host a number of fundraising events a year. On September 28th we are hosting a Casino Night Event at the Long Beach Market Place. There will be dinner, drinks, dancing, live entertainment, and casino games. Another one of our big fundraisers is our Scholar’s Day event on June 8th. This is the graduation celebration for our 12th grade OJS students. At this event we have a live auction, breakfast, entertainment, and we give away thousands of dollars in scholarships

How can people get involved with Operation Jump Start ? What do you need — volunteers, donations, etc?

If you are interested in getting involved please contact our office at 562.988.2131 as we are looking for mentors, volunteers, and donations of any kind.

What is the most inspiring advice that you received and who did it come from?

In a post interview one of our mentors (Ellen Schwartz) stated “The OJS mentoring program brought depth that I was missing – The feeling of making a positive contribution to a mentee, the organization and my community.” This statement showed us that not only have we impacted the student in a positive way but the mentor as well.

One Last Thing:

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
-Benjamin Franklin-

Operation Jump Start Details:

Address: 3515 linden Ave. Long Beach CA 90807

Phone Number: 5629882131



2 Responses to “Spotlight on Operation Jump Start”
  1. Operation Jump Start is a great idea, but it would be far more effective to have this one-on-one tutoring in first through third grade. This is the age at which those who are falling behind begin to slip between the cracks. By the time they are old enough for O J S, they are so far gone many of them no longer feel like making effort.

    We have, or it may be had, WRAP (winners reaching amazing potential) in Long Beach and though it is a good program, there is far to big a student to program leader ratio for it to be effective for children who are struggling. There is just no time to give individual instruction.

    Furthermore, it is an after school program that does not put a priority on students who need help. The first so many students signed up get the spots. Parents end up using it as free daycare rather than as the education supplement it was intended to be.

    It was part of the No Child Left Behind program so I do not know if it still exists. No Child Left Behind was a joke. Programs had to meet certain programming standards, yet NCLB did not provide enough funding to provide the materials needed to pay for those requirements.

    We also have to remember two things. Each child learns his or her own way and each learns at his or her own speed. We need to program education that fits the child, not force the child to fit the program.

    • Dzendaojs says:

      All we need to start earlier and have one on one attention is more donors and volunteers. If you cannot be one of these, then assist in finding them for the program of your choice.