Every kindergartner enrolled this year in St. Louis City public and charter schools is receiving a college savings account, Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones said Tuesday at the official launch of the College Kids program.
Accounts for 3,500 children have been seeded with $50 each from the Office of the Treasurer to help families save for college. With contributions from the business and philanthropic communities, College Kids also is offering incentives to build more savings, including $1 per week for perfect attendance, dollar-for-dollar matches up to $100, and bonuses for families who complete financial education courses.
“College Kids provides an opportunity for students to get a jump start on college savings and encourages parents and guardians to increase their financial capability through participation in financial education courses,” Jones said at the event at Gateway Elementary.
Jones is helping to implement a key recommendation of For the Sake of All (FSOA), said Jason Q. Purnell, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and leader of FSOA. The multidisciplinary project on the health and well-being of African-Americans in St. Louis has encouraged the implementation of Child Development Accounts.
The Center for Social Development (CSD) worked with Jones as she developed the city’s college savings account program. At an event this summer, Jones acknowledged CSD Director Michael Sherraden and the center’s work. “Dr. Sherraden is the godfather of asset building!” she said. “We were able to develop our program through his research at the Center for Social Development at Washington University.” Margaret Clancy, CSD policy director, provided financial design expertise.
CSD is leading an innovative experiment in Oklahoma—SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK)—that tests the impact of giving every child an account at birth for post-secondary education.
Purnell, who is a faculty director of CSD’s community engagement work and who attended the event Tuesday, said Jones is “aiding in increasing the likelihood that more children in St. Louis will attend and complete college. It is this type leadership that ensures a more just and equitable future for all in our community.”
To help ensure the sustainability of the College Kids program, the Office of the Treasurer partnered with the 1:1 Fund for Giving Tuesday. Every donation to College Kids on Tuesday was to be tripled, up to $500, according to a press release from Jones’ office.
College Kids’ partners include Wells Fargo, United Way, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, CFED’s 1:1 Fund, VistaShare, St. Louis Public Schools and the Missouri Public Charter School Association.