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Big Check for Unique K-College Program

May 26, 2014
By
Original Author: By Bay City News Service

Kids-role-playing-costumes

This is a fancy bank account that is yours and only yours to be used for the most valuable thing -- that money is for your education.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

Former San Francisco mayor and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom presented a big check to a group of kindergartners at a school in San Francisco’s Portola District on Thursday, May 22 to help motivate students to attend college.

Newsom presented a check made out to the city’s Kindergarten to College program for $150,392 with funds from 117 San Francisco donors part of a college savings matching effort. Newsom joined by San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros and San Francisco Unified School District board of education member Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell in the school’s auditorium, coincidentally located in a neighborhood filled with streets named after renowned colleges and universities such as Yale, Amherst, Princeton, Harvard and others.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit 1:1 Fund helped raise the money through an online campaign in the past year and continues to match donated funds to the savings program that started four years ago and has rolled out at 74 public elementary schools in the city.

This morning a group of 5- and 6-year-olds were wearing blue “K to C” T-shirts that said, “I’m going to college” on the front.

Newsom addressed his young audience by asking questions about saving money, forming a bank account and one day going to college.

“This is a fancy bank account that is yours and only yours to be used for the most valuable thing that money is for: your education.”

He said he hoped to encourage all schools throughout the state and across the nation create a college savings program.

“It’s special, unique and it’s important,” Newsom said.

The program is the first of its kind in the nation, according to Cisneros. The K to C program automatically starts every kindergarten student in the district with a $50 deposit and encourages parents to put in regular deposits over time, which will eventually be available to pay for college tuition. There is a $50 bonus for students in the free and reduced lunch program and there is a matching program for the first $100 parents put into the account.

Another incentive is an additional $100 after a family puts in at least $10 each month for a six-month saving period. The savings matches and bonuses are funded through a public-private partnership, which has provided over $500,000 of support since 2011.

Since its launch in 2010, the program has signed up 13,600 accounts for SFUSD students. Of those, 1,606 families have contributed more than $630,000 of their own money toward the college education accounts. The total value of the college savings accounts, which includes deposits from the city, family contributions and philanthropic matches and incentives, is more than $1.6 million. The first students to receive the college funding are now in third grade, Cisneros said.

Cosneros said the program is about more than saving money to pay college tuition, but starting the conversation about attending a university at a young age.

“Just having an account puts the aspirations out there,” he said.

He said partnerships, such as the 1:1 Fund matching campaign, are crucial to “help motivate our families to save.”

Mendoza-McDonnell encouraged the students to start saving money from birthday and holiday gifts and even any extra cash from the tooth fairy, so that “when you go to college you will say, ‘OK, this is possible.’”

“You all deserve to go to college,” she said.