Boston Saves, the Boston’s children savings account program, received a $150,000 grant from The Boston Foundation, according to a press release from Mayor Martin Walsh’s office on Thursday.
Walsh launched Boston Saves last fall as a way to help the families of kindergartners in Boston’s public schools begin to save for their children’s future college education or career training, according to the release. Boston Saves gives each participating child a savings account with $50 as a way to start saving for their future.
The grant will fund the next two of three pilot years of this program and is expected to help fund 1,100 students, according to the release. By 2019, the goal is to have the program implemented for all kindergarten students in Boston Public Schools.
Kimberly Lucas, the program manager of Boston Saves, wrote in an email that families who save money for their children to go to college will increase their children’s likelihood of graduating.
“Boston Saves is a tool that the city can provide to our young children and their families to demonstrate our commitment to and investment in their future,” Lucas wrote. “When children have as little as $500 saved in an account dedicated to their future, they are three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate than their peers without such an account.”
Although the program is in its early stages, about 50 percent of participants have already gone to informational meetings and began to access the savings accounts, Lucas wrote.
Keith Mahoney, a spokesperson for the Boston Foundation, said The Boston Foundation granted $150,000 to this program because Boston Saves encourages post-secondary education, an objective The Boston Foundation strongly supports.
“We have an economy in the Greater Boston area that really requires post-secondary degree attainment to fully participate,” Mahoney said. “We do a lot of work to encourage college completion at the Foundation. It’s another way of putting that practice into family’s planning at a young age.”
Boston Saves promotes economic equity throughout Boston, another objective The Boston Foundation aims to support, Mahoney said.
“Boston has a very strong economy and a great deal of affluence, but it’s not distributed equally among communities,” Mahoney said. “Increasing family savings to child savings accounts and getting community members to do that is important to promote equity in the community.”
Several Boston residents said they believe the program is a great way for families to start saving for their children’s education.
Peter Johnston, 30, of South Boston, said the program sounds like a good idea, but isn’t sure it will have lasting effects.
“The interesting part would be … [to] see the actual results from the program a year down or two years down to see if the people who have actually been given the money then take that to help themselves as well,” Johnston said. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”
Keerthi Sugumaran, 32, of South Boston, said the program is a great way to promote the importance of education by encouraging families that it is never too early to invest in their children’s futures.
“It’s important to improve student outcomes and futures towards education, college education,” Sugumaran said. “I think that’s something we should be pushing for more in the city and improving upon.”
James Kenney, 28, of South Boston, said the program could be a helpful way to start saving, but the starting amount seems too small to make a significant difference.
“It’s like small potatoes,” Kenney said. “It’s really not a lot of money at $50 per family. It would be a good way to help people to start the process of saving, but I don’t think it’s anything people should rely on.”