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Mayor Walsh Announces Citywide Launch of Boston Saves for K2 Kindergartners in BPS
On September 9, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the citywide expansion of Boston Saves, the City of Boston's children's savings account program, to all K2 kindergartners enrolled in Boston Public Schools (BPS). The program will provide each student with an account automatically seeded with $50 that can be used to support their future college or career training.
"Throughout its three-year pilot program, Boston Saves has proven to be an essential part of providing families with the tools to save for their children's post-secondary future," said Mayor Walsh. "I am pleased to announce the citywide expansion of Boston Saves, providing more families with these resources and strengthening the investment we are making in Boston's youth."
"Every child deserves to hear the message 'We believe in you and you can do anything' from the first minute they walk through our school doors," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. "The Boston Saves program helps us send that message and is a valuable resource to help families get a jump start on planning for their child's future. I encourage every family whose child is entering kindergarten this year to participate so they can take advantage of all of the wonderful benefits of the program."
Boston Saves aims to increase college and career access by supporting families in saving and planning for their children's futures. In addition to a children's savings account, Boston Saves also provides opportunities for families to earn more money for their child, an online platform to track savings progress, and fun community events to make financial saving and planning easier.
How It Works
Starting this fall, each K2 kindergartner enrolled in BPS will automatically receive a Boston Saves account with $50 to help build their future. The money in this account can be used to help pay for the costs of college or career training when a student finishes high school.
Research has shown that the mere presence of savings can motivate post-secondary success. In one study, low-income children with less than $500 in an account dedicated to higher education were three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate from college. Achievement of this kind is increasingly important in the Boston job market, where approximately 75 percent of positions are estimated to require college or other post-secondary coursework.
Families can grow the money in their child's Boston Saves account by earning incentives for specific actions that plan for the future. For example, if a family saves $25 for their child in a three-month period, Boston Saves will add another $5 to their child's account. All told, families can earn up to $65 in incentives for their child's Boston Saves account in the program's first year.
"My family's participation in the Boston Saves program has brought up important family discussions about college and financial planning early on," said Esmirna Soto, the parent of a student at Roosevelt School, which participated in the Boston Saves pilot. "The experience has been great because the earlier we save, the more our child will benefit over time. He benefits by knowing that we are not only expecting him to attend college or some form of higher education, but that we are also financially planning for it."
Families can view their child's Boston Saves account on an online platform, called the Savings Center, which will open later in Fall 2019. When families use this platform to link their own financial account to their child's Boston Saves account, they will be able to track all their savings for their child in one convenient place online.
In addition to these opportunities, Boston Saves also provides ongoing support. Program partners, such as nonprofits and financial institutions, offer resources that simplify academic and educational planning. These resources range from financial education activities for students to college planning and credit-building workshops for their families. Peer support is also available through Family Champions, trusted family members in a school community who are trained by Boston Saves. Family Champions are able to explain the program to fellow families and encourage their saving progress - often in families' native languages.
"My experience with Boston Saves has been wonderful, because I have learned a lot," said Elsa Flores, a Boston Saves Family Champion. "I encourage other families about the importance of saving for their children's university or professional training from the time they are young, and thus help them place their children on the right path to succeed in their future lives."
Boston Saves began in 2016 as a pilot program supported by an $800,000 investment from the Eos Foundation, the City of Boston, and other funders. Over the course of the three-year pilot, Boston Saves provided accounts to 1,600 students from 11 BPS schools. Their families were able to build on the $80,000 in these accounts by earning an additional $15,000 in incentives for their children.
Boston Saves' program design was developed with the input of BPS families, and this family-centered approach is reflected in the program's high participation rate. Over the course of the pilot, nearly half (43 percent) of all eligible families participated in a Boston Saves event.
"We are thrilled with the success of the Boston Saves pilot program and even more impressed by the Mayor's commitment to expanding it district-wide so quickly," said Andrea Silbert, president of the Eos Foundation. "Children's savings accounts beginning in kindergarten are a game-changer. Not only do kids and families begin saving money, but these young scholars also get a clear message from the moment they walk into school that the sky is the limit. College or career training will be a part of their journey."
While the City of Boston is one of the few major cities with its own children's savings account (CSA) program, CSA programs are growing across the country. Last year alone, the number of children served by CSA programs nationwide grew by 20 percent, according to a recent report. Massachusetts also operates a CSA program, SeedMA Baby Steps, which will be available to all newly born or adopted children in the state starting in 2020.
Boston Saves is a collaborative effort of many partners. These partner organizations include:
- Boston Builds Credit
- Boston Educational Development Foundation
- Collatos Family Foundation
- Eos Foundation
- Junior Achievement
- Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority
- Metro Credit Union
- National Grid
- Rockland Trust Bank
- Tech Goes home
- The Boston Foundation