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The Inclusive Economy

Children’s Savings Victories on the Horizon in Three States

By Kamolika Das on 02/03/2017 @ 03:00 PM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, State Policy

While the federal education policy landscape is still unclear, we are excited about the leadership of three state policymakers championing Children’s Savings Accounts (CSA) and college access. More than 10 states currently have long-term asset-building accounts for children in operation, and others are in the process of rolling out or funding their programs.

Recently elected Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, newly elected Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read and California Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian are all taking leadership as champions for expanding financial security for all populations in their respective states, especially through increased education opportunities for children.

In Oregon, Treasurer Tobias Read has long been dedicated to education initiatives, as demonstrated by his work on full-day kindergarten and support for expanding eligibility to Oregon Promise grants and increasing services for Oregon Promise grantees. During his campaign, Read also committed to supporting Career and Technical Education programs, Early College Credit programs and Dropout Prevention Strategies.

The Oregon Asset Building Coalition has designed a CSA program and identified best practices to ensure that it is inclusive and accessible, especially for low- and moderate-income families. Treasurer Read’s involvement will be critical in helping to generate enthusiasm among Oregon policymakers and bring Oregon’s children one step closer to educational and financial success.

Similarly, Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella campaigned on the promise of creating economic opportunity for the state’s most vulnerable residents. As a symbol of his priorities, he was sworn in at Camp Curtin Academy, a public middle school in Harrisburg. He states, “This is a common sense, centrist idea that both parties should agree on…. It’s about raising expectations and results, and it’s about the economy of Pennsylvania.” Torsella has made this an early priority and under his direction, we are hopeful about seeing Keystone College Savings Accounts come to fruition.

In California, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian has introduced a bill to establish a CSA program for the half-million children born in the state each year. He is working closely with stakeholders from across the state to shape the design of the program to ensure more children have an opportunity to get to and through college. As the bill language is developed, this could be an incredible addition to the commitment that several cities in California have already made to CSA programs.

CFED is optimistic that the examples above reflect progress in how state and local governments are partnering together and learning from one another. While we await policy changes at the federal level, we can take some solace in leaders at the state and local level who are finding innovative solutions to improve educational and financial outcomes for children across the economic spectrum.

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