Local Organizations and Leaders Come Together to Offer Child Savings Accounts to Local Families and to Share their Joint Commitment to Invest in their Future Success
[November 15, 2021] Stockton, CA – Today, local non-profit San Joaquin A+ (SJA+) brought together community leaders, program partners, and parents to commemorate the launch of the San Joaquin County Child Savings Account pilot program, and to share the community’s joint commitment to invest in the successful futures of local children. This event will launch the pilot year of the initiative, which will make the program available to over 2,000 families in the first year to have $750 placed in a savings account for each child, with these investments expected to grow to a minimum of $1,800 when each child in the program turns 18 and graduates high school.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to kick this program off with local families and community partners,” shared Don Shalvey, CEO of San Joaquin A+. “Studies have found that children from low-income backgrounds that have $500 or less in a College Savings Account are three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate, compared to those with no college savings. This is all about us as a community coming together to support these families, and to show them that we are invested in the future of their children.”
Child Savings Accounts (CSA), are tax-free accounts that are managed to allow funds for postsecondary opportunities to grow over time at much faster rates than they could in a standard checking or savings account. When a student then goes to college or a trade program, funds are provided to the student or sent directly to the student’s college or trade program, to cover the cost of tuition, books, or other fees.
“This is a great opportunity for families and youth in our community,” added Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln. “I know that in today’s economy, building skills and knowledge beyond high school is not only extremely important for these children, but it is essential for us to thrive as a region long-term. With this college savings account program, youth will get a down-payment at a young age to put toward college or a post-high school certification to help prepare them for a family sustaining, livable wage career right here in our region.”
In San Joaquin County 51% of residents have attended some college, with only 18% of those individuals finishing and earning a bachelor’s degree. 50% of low-income students in San Joaquin County have cited the price of college being a barrier to pursuing postsecondary education.
“Our family is so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program,” shared Alma, the parent of Frankie who attends PreK at a CAPC site in Stockton. “As parents, we of course are always thinking about our kid’s future. My oldest, Lilliana, is 6 and didn’t have an opportunity like this, so actually having a savings account set up in his name that we can contribute to, and watch grow is a game-changer for us. Growing up my parents were always focused on work, work, work and I was the only child of 9 to go to school – and I want the same for my kids. It gives us, and Frankie, something concrete to work on throughout our academic journey moving forward.”
With the launch of this CSA pilot program, San Joaquin A+ has now identified a group of core provider partners who will collaborate during the pilot year of the CSA Grant Program to bring it to families. Each partner organization will work with San Joaquin A+, the County Office, and the State of California to set up an individual child savings account for each student. In order to enroll families, these education providers will conduct outreach to all families that are eligible to educate them about the program, and ask them to ‘opt-in’ to have $750 placed in a savings account for their child.
“For our families at El Concilio, this program will provide such an important step in how they support their children’s academic hopes and dreams,” said Dr. Ines Ruiz-Huston, Vice President, Special Programs of El Concilio. “Beyond the benefit of $750 in a bank account that will grow over time, the conversations about saving money for college, and the education for families about how they can do this in a financially sound way are so important. This is an investment in our migrant community that says you can do it, ‘Si se puede’!”
The outreach plan for the pilot year includes a registration period throughout the winter, as well as a period where financial literacy events will be held to inform families how they can most effectively utilize and maximize this benefit for their children when they graduate high school. And along with the presentation of piggy banks to families to kick off the program, San Joaquin A+ plans to hold an end of year celebration for all participating families who have signed up to offer continuing resources as their children move through school and to communicate that the entire community is invested in their future.
“When I first heard about this program, I thought, what? This is BRILLIANT!” said Dr. Cathy Nichols-Washer, Superintendent of Lodi Unified School District. “If we really want our children to succeed and pursue higher education, we have to invest in them now. This program is not a one-time investment and does not stop now. Parents – stay with it. Take advantage of the financial literacy and other programs offered to continue contributing to your students account. Stay with it!”
In January of 2021, The California Student Aid Commission awarded San Joaquin County with $4.6 million to pilot this brand-new program. The total goal over the pilot period is to provide approximately 4,300 3- and 4-year-old students enrolled in a local county or state subsidized preschool program with a $750 deposit into a CSA over the next two years. By the time each child in the program turns 18 and graduates high school, their CSA will have likely grown to a minimum of $1,800.
“I can’t wait to see the worlds that open up for these children as they continue to grow and learn and become adults with families of their own,” added Troy Brown, Superintendent of the San Joaquin County Office of Education. “Programs like this are so powerful because they invest in students early in life, in a way that has the potential to elevate their trajectory from an early age. And when we have the commitment from partners in the community like we do today, we know our efforts become that much more likely to succeed.”
The core group partners who have volunteered to collaborate with San Joaquin A+ to sign up families in the pilot year include: The San Joaquin County Office of Education, SJ Child Abuse Prevention Council, Creative Child Care, El Concilio, and Lodi Unified School District.
To learn more about this program visit: https://csaplus.org/