By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
The start of kindergarten marks the beginning of a child’s educational future and here in Boston we believe nothing should hinder a child’s path to success. That’s why, in 2016, and in collaboration with Boston Public Schools, we launched Boston Saves as a three-year pilot program. Our goal was to build strong career pathways by helping families of BPS kindergarteners save money for their children’s college or career training. Throughout those three years, our efforts worked. We provided children’s savings accounts to 1,600 students from eleven BPS schools for a total of $80,000.
Beginning this fall, Boston Saves will expand citywide, providing more families with the tools to invest in their children’s future. The program provides each kindergartener enrolled in BPS with a savings account, automatically started with $50. This money can then be used to help pay for the costs of college or career training once a student finishes high school.
Families have the opportunity to grow the money in their child’s Boston Saves account by earning Boston Saves Dollars for specific actions that plan for the future. For example, if a family saves $25 for their child in a three-month period, Boston Saves will add another $5 to their child’s account. All told, families can earn up to $65 in incentives for their child’s Boston Saves account in the program’s first year. Another way families can earn Boston Saves Dollars is by reading with their child for 20 minutes a day for 20 days per month in a three-month period. Once the reading is complete, families can fill out a reading self-reporting form and earn $5 for each three-month period, or up to $20 per year.
Families can also view their child’s Boston Saves account on an online platform, called the Savings Center, which will open later this fall. When families use this platform to link their own financial account to their child’s Boston Saves account, they will be able to track all their savings for their child in one convenient place online. This will add an additional $25 Boston Saves Dollars to their child’s account.
We understand that saving for a child’s future is a collaborative effort that includes financial education, planning and ongoing support services. Boston Saves recruits program partners, such as nonprofits and financial institutions, to offer resources that range from financial education activities for students to college planning and credit-building workshops for their families. Peer support is also available through Family Champions, trusted family members in a school community who are trained by Boston Saves. Family Champions are able to explain the program to fellow families and encourage their saving progress – often in families’ native languages.
Children’s savings accounts are building blocks of financial education for both children and their families. By equipping the youngest generation of Boston residents with these resources, we are investing in our City. There is no better time than now to begin saving for the future.
We are grateful to the many partner organizations who made the expansion of Boston Saves possible, including the Eos Foundation, Berkshire Bank, Boston Builds Credit, Boston Educational Development Foundation, Collatos Family Foundation, City of Boston Credit Union, Commonwealth, Inversant, Junior Achievement, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, Metro Credit Union, National Grid, ReadBoston, Rockland Trust Back, Tech Goes Home and The Boston Foundation.
Martin J. Walsh is the Mayor of Boston.