Historic expansion of NYC Kids RISE Save for College program to reach 70,000+ kindergarteners
Every public school
Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Chancellor Meisha Porter and kindergarteners from The Williamsburg Bridge Magnet School today to kick off New York City’s first-ever “Baby Bonds” program, a citywide expansion of the community-driven NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program. This public-private-community partnership provides families, schools, and communities access to a universal scholarship and savings platform, regardless of a family’s income or immigration status.
“For New York to come back stronger than before the pandemic, we must address the widening wealth gap that holds so many kids back from opportunities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This historic investment in our children’s futures will pay dividends for generations to come, helping us build a just recovery for all.”
“The racial wealth gap – persistent in every financial indicator from home ownership to savings – is a brutal driver of inequality and opportunity,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “How many hopes and dreams have withered on the vine because the money was not there to make them real? The City’s expansion of NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is an investment in our children’s futures. Now, every kindergartner enrolled in a City public school can have a scholarship account, with the opportunity to save money and to multiply those savings. We should all applaud this wonderful public-private-community partnership, which is available regardless of income or immigration status.”
“The NYC College Savings program reflects our shared investment in an inclusive future,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “This is a truly unique platform that harnesses the collective investment of families, community and faith leaders, government, business, and philanthropy in the future of our City. It is a proven model for addressing racial disparities in access to college savings accounts. I applaud the leaders in District 30 who made this vision a reality and look forward to working with families, community leaders, and partners who will make this program a success citywide.”
“The Save for College Program is all about investing in the future of New York City’s children, and this expansion will provide every Kindergarten student citywide with the resources to chase their dreams as they grow up,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “This administration has made unprecedented investments in early childhood, and now thanks to our partners at NYC Kids RISE, we can help make sure our babies are set up for success in college, their careers, and beyond.”
“Far too many families and communities don’t have access to the tools and resources needed to save for a child’s future,” said Sideya Sherman, Executive Director of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity. “By investing in our children from an early age, we can dramatically increase their chances of long-term success inside and outside the classroom. We have seen firsthand the power of communities coming together through the Save for College Program to ensure every young person in their neighborhood has a fighting chance at getting a college degree. Now, New York City is giving all of our public school students, families and communities across the five boroughs that same opportunity.”
“College savings accounts can catalyze new possibilities, and as a supporter of NYC Kids RISE since its inception, our office is thrilled that the initiative is now citywide,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “These universal scholarship accounts provide a practical vehicle for savings, an opportunity to galvanize additional community support for its children, a signal that post-secondary learning can be for everyone, and a tangible demonstration of the City’s belief in investing in all of our children’s potential.”
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. The historic expansion of this program will reach roughly 70,000 Kindergarteners citywide, up from over 13,000 students already participating in the program across School District 30 in Queens, which represent 95% of all eligible kindergarten, first-, second, and third-graders. This commitment was announced as part of the NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan with the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity last summer.
New York City is the first major city in the nation to implement this groundbreaking model for community wealth building that provides ways for stakeholders within each neighborhood and across the city—including schools, CBOs, local businesses, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations— to contribute to asset-building and promote community-wide expectations for students’ success from their first days of school.
With this announcement, the Mayor has guaranteed every family—regardless of income—is not only able to access free quality pre-school education but is also able to start saving early for college or career training after high school. Ultimately, this program has the potential to increase access to higher education, positioning students to earn higher incomes, take on less debt, and build wealth later in life, narrowing racial and socioeconomic disparities that hold too many children back. Research suggests that a child in a low-income household with a college savings account of just $1-500 is three times more likely to go to college and more than four times more likely to graduate than a child without an account.
The expansion of the Save For College Program, which NYC Kids RISE launched in partnership with the Department of Education (DOE) and the City with founding support from the Gray Foundation in 2017, signifies an investment in the financial and social resiliency of NYC’s families and neighborhoods, and it provides a new way to drive financial assets towards communities that have been systematically excluded from wealth-building opportunities. This milestone is the result of a broad effort from local leaders, partners, schools, businesses and parents in Queens who helped create a universal, community-driven wealth-building platform that is embedded in homes, schools, and neighborhoods.
These funds, including the funds that will accumulate progressively over time through Community Scholarships, can also reduce the amount that students and families borrow in student loans, combatting the student debt crisis that has disproportionately impacted students of color. Families will be receiving information about the program this fall through an “Education Period” and as students matriculate through school, they will have the opportunity to receive additional funding for their educational futures in the form of Community Scholarships.
“The New York City Save for College Program is a valuable tool for families to start investing in their loved ones’ education right away,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “I’m proud that my office has been able to assist in the creation of this vital program that is helping New Yorkers build savings and a brighter future. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Porter and the New York City Department of Education, the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, and NYC Kids RISE on the citywide expansion of this vital program.”
“After such a difficult year, it is thrilling to see New York City students return to school. We can’t just be focused on making up for the educational and socio-emotional losses of the past year, however; we must think about paving the way for greater success and achievement for all students in the years to come. The NYC Kids Rise program is a promising public-private partnership that will help ensure students and families have the resources they need to plan for their educational futures,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“Your income, race, gender, ethnicity and zip code should never dictate whether you can access higher education or economic opportunity,” said Congressman Ritchie Torres. “Expanding the Save for College Program citywide will help break down economic disparities and increase access to tools that allow families to save money and invest in the future of our children, ensuring that all New York City students have a chance to go to college and build generational wealth. I have been a long time champion of innovative approaches like this to end historic racial inequities in our city, and I look forward to helping to build an economy and educational system that works for all New Yorkers.”
“Unlocking opportunity for our children’s future will take generational efforts and I am proud we were able to get State support for this meaningful program by working with NYC Kids RISE and the Astoria Houses Tenants Association, who led the way in its establishment. I am thrilled the City is expanding it further and look forward to its successful implementation,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.