St. Louis Launches College Kids Savings Account Program

College Kids provides every kindergartner enrolled in a city public or charter school with a $50 college savings account

City of St. Louis

City of St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones was joined by Laura Woods, Vice President of Marketing & Community Presence, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union; Dr. Kelvin Adams, Superintendent, St. Louis Public Schools; Dr. Douglas Thaman, Executive Director, Missouri Charter Public School Association; Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, President, Harris-Stowe State University; and Dr. Jason Purnell, Assistant Professor, Washington University Brown School of Social Work at Gateway Elementary School to announce the official launch of the College Kids Children’s Savings Account program.

College Kids provides every kindergartner enrolled in a City public or charter school with a college savings account. Each kindergartner’s account is seeded with $50 from the St. Louis Treasurer’s office. Through contributions made by the business and philanthropic community, students can earn additional money for college. This year, matches and incentives include: $1 for every week of perfect attendance, match contributions up to $100, and up to $50 for completing financial education courses either online, in person, or via a smart phone.

“As an elected official, I believe every student should have access to resources to achieve their dream of a college education,” says Treasurer Jones. “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.”

Recent research shows that low-income students with $500 in college savings are three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate from college than students with no college savings. “I am very pleased to join Treasurer Jones in her official launch of College Kids,” says Dr. Purnell, author of For the Sake of All study. “Treasurer Jones is not only helping to implement a key recommendation of For the Sake of All; she is also 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.”

Dr. Warmack adds, “Every dollar parents save today with the College Kids program is a dollar their child won’t have to borrow in the future. Planting the seed of college attendance in the hearts and minds of these kindergartners sets them up for future success. What a terrific gift to give a child this holiday season.”

The success of College Kids thus far is in large part because of the partners here in St. Louis. College Kids’ partners include: Wells Fargo, United Way, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, the Center for Enterprise Development’s 1-to-1 Fund, Vistashare, St. Louis Public Schools, and the Missouri Public Charter School Association. “1st Financial Federal Credit Union is so proud to be a partner in this program with the Treasurer’s office,” says Vice President Woods. “Our goal for College Kids is to see families all over St. Louis realize the power they hold in choosing how and where they invest their hard earned money. We want to remove the intimidation of using a product like a savings account and provide free access to the people who need it the most.”

“The College Kids Savings Program fits perfectly into the Saint Louis Public School District’s emphasis on creating a college-going culture for our young scholars,” says Dr. Adams. “We know College Kids will help us encourage our kindergartners to begin thinking beyond high school graduation.”

Dr. Thaman also shares his support for College Kids, “We are appreciative and applaud Treasurer Jones launching of the College Kids savings account program. The value of providing a college savings account for every child is immeasurable. Research shows when you make students more financially aware and establish a college savings mentality they are more likely to change the way they think about their future and go to college. The College Kids program is indeed a true life changer!”

To ensure the sustainability of the College Kids program, the Treasurer’s office partnered with the 1:1 Fund for Giving Tuesday. Today, every donation to College Kids will be tripled, up to $500.  Any amount donated will help us toward our $5000 goal. Donations can be made at http://1to1fund.org/match/partners/st_louis_college_kids [1to1fund.org]. “Our most important investment should be in our children and College Kids promises to be one that will bring us returns for years to come,” says Treasurer Jones.

Tishaura O. Jones is the first female Treasurer for the City of St. Louis and former Assistant Minority Floor Leader of the Missouri House of Representatives. As Treasurer, Jones established the Office of Financial Empowerment in City Hall which offers free assistance to citizens who want to learn how to increase their financial capabilities, raise their credit scores, get out of debt, or start their own business.

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