NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, a first-of-its-kind universal program to create college savings accounts for every public school kindergartener in NYC, has now expanded its reach to the Bronx.
In September 2021, the de Blasio administration kicked off the citywide expansion of the Save for College Program as part of an economic justice plan to tackle NYC’s persistent racial wealth gap. This school year, every kindergartener enrolled in a NYC public school and participating charter schools — including those here in the Bronx — will have access to an NYC Scholarship Account invested in a 529 college savings plan, with a $100 seed deposit and up to $200 in early rewards. The program is designed to provide families, schools and communities with a way to work together to invest in their children’s futures — regardless of family income or immigration status. The scholarship funds are invested in the NY 529 Direct Plan, a type of tax-advantaged account specifically designed to help people save for higher education.
The initiative began in the fall of 2017, when the Save for College Program launched a three-year pilot in School District 30 in Queens in partnership with the NYC Department of Education. During the 2021-2022 school year, parents were educated about the program in the fall and winter. As a result, more than 14,000 kindergarteners across nearly 230 public elementary schools in the Bronx will be able to activate and view their NYC Scholarship accounts later this spring.
“Every kid will graduate with a real financial asset and support from their community,” said Executive Director of NYC Kids RISE, Debra-Ellen Glickstein. “The whole premise of this effort is just by having a small dollar amount a child is more likely to go into higher education.”
According to a study released by the Institute for Higher Education Policy and Prosperity Now, a child in a low-income household with a college savings account between $1 and $500 is three times more likely to go to college and more than four times more likely to graduate than a child without one.
The program has become quite popular in District 30 and the hope is families throughout the city follow suit, Glickstein said. So far, more than 13,000 first- through fourth -grade students, representing 96% of all students in those grades in the participating schools within the communities of School District 30, are enrolled and have an NYC Scholarship Account invested in a 529 plan.
All 39 elementary schools in the pilot district are incorporating the Save for College Program into their activities with students and families to enhance college and career readiness from students’ first days of kindergarten.
“What we are doing is creating an opportunity and a message for every kid,” Glickstein said. “This is about starting early and knowing that you will have something. This is about the small dollars adding up over time.”
Based on the success in Queens, Glickstein knows families in the other boroughs will take advantage of this opportunity.
“We’re so proud of the work that has happened with Queens and all the parents, and we are excited to come to the Bronx and citywide,” she said.
One person who knows firsthand about the program is Astoria, Queens resident Nadia Landy. Landy, a member of the Astoria Houses Resident Association, helped create the Astoria Houses Community Scholarship, a community campaign to raise $1,000 for every kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grader that lives in Astoria Houses and attends a pilot school.
“I thought it was amazing to have because I am a college graduate who has over $10,000 in student bills,” Landy said. “If they start now, they have something to build off. I think why they started this is for parents and kids to think of college as an option.”
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.