City expands NYC Kids RISE college savings initiative following western Queens pilot program

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter announce the launch of Universal NYC Baby Bonds for every public school kindergartener. (Photo credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

The city is launching an expansion of the community-driven NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program that had its genesis in the schools of western Queens over the past decade.

Starting this year, every kindergartener enrolled in a New York City public school will have access to an NYC Scholarship account, with $100 invested toward their future education and up to $200 in rewards.

“Here in western Queens we have been a springboard for the pioneering Save for College Program that has not only provided college savings accounts for more than 13,000 of our students, but also brought our neighborhoods together to support our children,” Councilman Danny Dromm said. “With the rising costs of higher education, and the importance of building assets for college and career training as a strategy to help reduce educational and wealth disparities, the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program offers a meaningful part of the solution.”

The historic expansion of the initiative, now dubbed “NYC Baby Bonds,” will reach roughly 70,000 kindergarteners citywide.

Research has shown that a child in a low-income household with a college savings account of just $1 to $500 is three times more likely to go to college and more than four times more likely to graduate than a child without an account.

“I am pleased to see that the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, which began as a pilot program in District 30 and has been such a great success in Queens, will be expanded citywide this year,” Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan said. “A help to families, and marking a bright beginning for so many students, this program represents the realization of a great deal of hard work and collaboration. My thanks to Debra-Ellen Glickstein and the many community groups who have made this project possible.”

District 30 includes the neighborhoods of Astoria, East Elmhurst, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights and Corona.

Councilman Francisco Moya said he’s supported the NYC Kids RISE program from its earliest days because investment in youth today “means we’re investing in a more equitable and prosperous future for our communities.”

“I want to thank all the educators, parents, students, community members and local businesses that have been part of the Save for College Program to date,” Moya said. “I look forward to working with everyone to invest in our children, together, in the years to come.”

Photo credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

New York will be the first major city in the nation to implement the groundbreaking model for community wealth building that provides ways for stakeholders within each neighborhood to contribute asset-building and promote communitywide expectations for students’ success from their first days of school.

“The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program was designed by hundreds of public, private, philanthropic, nonprofit and community partners coming together across School District 30 and beyond to create a tool that would help students and families build wealth, reinforce expectations of success for all our children, and prepare them for their educational and economic futures,” NYC Kids RISE Founding Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein said. “We’ve come together to create an infrastructure that allows every part of a child’s neighborhood — from schools, to their local businesses, to community-based organizations and places of worship — to visibly and tangibly demonstrate support for their children and invest in their futures together.”

Astoria Houses Tenants Association president Claudia Coger spearheaded a campaign last year in collaboration with NYC Kids RISE that resulted in contributions from 160 donors and raised a landmark $184,000 investment in the educational futures of 184 elementary school students living in the NYCHA complex.

“Education opens doors to tremendous opportunity. Our youngest need to know that they have a whole neighborhood behind them cheering them on,” Coger said. “I am so proud of what we have created with the Save for College Program and the impact we have seen in our community. This citywide investment in every kindergartener across NYC public schools will make a significant impact in the years to come.”