NYC Kids RISE, a nonprofit organization that works to expand economic opportunity for children’s education, and MetLife Foundation will give out $70,000 to more than 1,900 kids in some of the neighborhoods hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students in kindergarten through third grade enrolled in the Save for College Program in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona have already received their portion of the $70,000. On top of the financial investment in students, MetLife will be holding virtual College and Career Sessions for third graders to help them discover their own aspirations.
The College and Career Sessions have MetLife employees share their personal educational and career paths, in hopes of inspiring students to envision their own. Five elementary schools across Queens participated in these sessions: P.S. 329 East Elmhurst Community School; P.S. 92 The Harry T. Stewart Sr. School; P.S. 148 The Ruby G. Allen School; P.S. 149 The Christa McAuliffe School and P.S. 280.
Onalis Hernandez, the principal at P.S. 149, said she has heard from her students just how rewarding these sessions have been. Hernandez said one of her students heard a presenter’s story and decided he wanted to follow a similar path.
“It gave him the inspiration that he too could do that job,” Hernandez said. “It told me that perhaps this 8-year-old feels there’s something attainable that wasn’t there before.”
Hernandez went on to say that students in her district might never have thought college was an option before these programs and savings accounts made it possible for them.
“Jackson Heights has a large immigrant population,” Hernandez said, “and perhaps some of my students have never had someone in their family go to college, or seen college as something attainable for them.”
The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is designed to allow local organizations, businesses, neighbors and others to fund student’s education savings. The program reduces the amount of student debt families struggle with, which can decrease the wealth inequality and racial wealth gap in local communities.
The average student enrolled in the Save for College program could save approximately $3,000 in total assets by the time they graduate high school.
Dolores Crespo, a parent in Jackson Heights, said the savings account has changed the trajectory of her daughter’s future.
“It’s been a program that’s been good to save for her future,” Crespo said. “When she was younger we weren’t really thinking about college; it was far off. But once she enrolled in school, the years started passing by quickly. It was good to enroll in the program and activate her scholarship account.”
The program was created in 2017 in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the city of New York. To learn more about these programs, visit their website.