Councilwoman Sandra Ung joined representatives of Flushing Bank and NYC Kids RISE on Thursday, Jan. 26, to present a $6,000 check for a community scholarship to the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program to support the college and future careers of 231 first-grade and kindergarten students at P.S. 22Q in Flushing.
The event was well attended by parents, guardians of kindergartners and first-graders, school officials, and local government and community leaders at P.S. 22Q The Thomas Jefferson School, located at 153-33 Sanford Ave., for the announcement of the Community Scholarship Fund.
John Buran, president and CEO of Flushing Bank, said the bank is excited to once again support the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, which provides families, schools and communities with a way to work together to save for their children’s futures.
“This is a great example of how we, as a community bank, demonstrate our commitment to local communities and their dreams for students’ higher education through contributions to grassroots initiatives that make such a powerful positive impact on families,” Buran said. “We are pleased to continue our support of this program, which is designed to drive neighborhood-level changes in economic opportunity and mobility by promoting asset building and reinforcing college and career-building expectations.”
The NYC Scholarship Month event hosted by P.S. 22Q will support parents and guardians to activate and view their children’s NYC Scholarship Accounts, the first of several steps they can take to earn more money for their child’s account and receive additional funds over time. The new Community Scholarship Fund will provide an additional $25 for all P.S. 22 kindergartners and first-graders with NYC Scholarship Accounts.
This month, NYC elementary schools are celebrating NYC Scholarship Month via events, activities and workshops that support families with activating and viewing their children’s NYC Scholarship Accounts. Approximately 70,000 kindergartners and first-grade students were enrolled in the program this school year and received NYC Scholarship Accounts this month, seeded with an initial $100 investment for every child, regardless of their family income or immigration status.
In the fall of 2017, the Save for College Program launched as a pilot in the communities of Queens School District 30 through a partnership between NYC Kids RISE, the NYC Department of Education and the city of New York, with founding and ongoing support from the Gray Foundation.
Through the Save for College Program starting in the 2021-2022 school year, and every year going forward, students in eligible grades enrolled in an NYC public elementary school (including participating charter schools) automatically receive an NYC Scholarship Account invested in a NY 529 Direct Plan account with an initial $100 seed allocation and opportunities to earn more through early rewards, unless their families choose not to participate.
Their families can open and connect a college and career savings account that they own for the benefit of their child, and communities can contribute to groups of these NYC Scholarship Accounts through Community Scholarships as both a targeted and universal platform for community-driven asset-building in every neighborhood.
According to Debra-Ellen Glickstein, founding executive director of NYC Kids RISE, this is one major step for kindergartners and first-graders who are closer to their dreams because they now have an NYC Scholarship Account.
“Coming together with families, Council member Ung, Flushing Bank and the P.S. 22 school community was an amazing example of the way that NYC Kids RISE works as a universal, community-driven wealth-building platform,” Glickstein said. “It takes all of us to ensure young New Yorkers have the resources, expectations and confidence they need to develop and pursue their dreams of college and career.”
Wei Quan, parent of a P.S. 22Q first-grade student in the Save for College Program, said she’s glad to learn about the program and to see the funds in her daughter’s NYC Scholarship Account be used for college and career training, opening up more opportunities for her career in the future.
“As I hear more about the steps I can take now and how the money gets added into these accounts, including through the new Community Scholarship from Flushing Bank, I am happy to know that my child, and other children across the city, are being supported by the community,” Quan said.
District 25 Superintendent Danielle DiMango said as the young students in the community grow, so will their NYC Scholarship Accounts from community contributions through the program.
“I am excited to work with schools and partners across this school district and beyond so that families will see even more money in their children’s accounts in the coming years, and to ensure they have the tools, resources, and information they need to take full advantage of the Save for College Program,” DiMango said.
Jennifer Meyer, principal of P.S. 22Q, said the support of Flushing Bank, Ung and local elected officials, NYC Kids RISE, the Department of Education, and the city of New York is truly a game-changer for the families of their first-graders and kindergartners.
“I see excitement on the faces of our students and joy on those of their families when they learn that there are resources dedicated to their futures. NYC Scholarship Month is just the beginning of a long and important journey for our children towards their college and career goals,” Meyer said.
Ung thanked Flushing Bank for their continued commitment to the children, and the P.S. 22Q staff and faculty for supporting the program.
“I can’t think of a better way to show children that we believe in their potential than by coming together to make a tangible investment in their future,” Ung said. “The Save for College Program gives all NYC students the opportunity to pursue higher education or career training, an opportunity that isn’t impeded by their economic background or immigration status. I look forward to opportunities to partner with NYC Kids RISE and help even more students achieve their educational goals.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said the Save for College Program has immense potential to make a world of difference for children and families across Queens and the entire city.
“This initiative shows families that higher learning is a real and accessible possibility for all children, regardless of their financial status, including the children of P.S. 22 right here in Flushing,” Richards said. “Thank you to Flushing Bank for its generous show of support for not only the program, but the students who will benefit from this investment for years to come.”