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Photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office
Photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office
Kindergartners in western Queens will receive money from the city to save for a college education.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday a new initiative that will give students in School District 30 hundreds of dollars to put toward a college savings account.

The NYC Child Savings Account program will provide about 3,500 kindergartners from schools in Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, East Elmurst and Jackson Heights with $100. The money will be put into a scholarship account this fall and up to an additional $200 in matching funds will be transferred during the first three years.

 

Approximately 10,000 children will be a part of the initiative during its first three years, and kindergartners enrolled in School District 30 public schools will be automatically enrolled in the free initiative. If the pilot program is successful, every child in a New York City public school will eventually be enrolled.

The mayor first announced the initiative in November.

“All of NYC’s kids deserve the chance to attend college and pursue their dreams, regardless of their family’s economic status,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We hope to see this program continue to grow so families across the five boroughs can start saving early for their children’s future.”

The Gray Foundation, which focuses on funding initiatives related to healthcare and low-income children in New York, have contributed $10 million in seed money. It was founded by John Gray, global head of real estate at Blackstone Group and his wife, Mindy.

NYC Kids RISE, a new nonprofit, will oversee the accounts and will look to raise additional private funds to support the initiative and to eventually expand it.

The city conducted an analysis of all 32 school districts and chose School District 30 because it was “both representative of the public school population with respect to poverty levels, ethnicity, English language learners and students with disabilities, and also had the infrastructure in place to support the pilot program.”

“Providing students with financial tools and the benefits of long-term savings plans helps make college more attainable for our youth,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who chairs the Council’s Education Committee. “All students should have the opportunity to attend college regardless of their economic status, and this initiative is an investment in our children’s future. I am thrilled that the pilot will be launching in School District 30, where many families struggle with the financial burden of college tuition.”

Similar initiatives exist in San Francisco, Oakland, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma and Boston.

Several city offices will collaborate on this effort, including the Department of Consumer Affairs and its Office of Financial Empowerment, which will help families create financial savings plans through their financial empowerment centers.

The program will have both a scholarship component and family savings component. In conjunction with NY’s 529 College Savings Program, an investment account run by the state, a portion of funds invested in the scholarship program will go to every student enrolled regardless of their family’s income.

Family members and relatives will also be able to contribute their own money into the 529 plan and can benefit from compound earnings.

Debra-Ellen Glickstein, the former executive director of the Office of Financial Empowerment, will serve as the executive director of NYC Kids Rise. Julie Menin, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, who came up with the program in her previous job as commissioner of consumer affairs, will also help spearhead the initiative.

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