The Inclusive Economy
What's Next for the Children's Savings Movement?
By Carl Rist on 11/12/2015 @ 10:00 PM
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis hosted a first-class convening on Children’s Savings Accounts (CSA) in early October, underscoring that St. Louis is a hotbed for the CSA movement. The gathering brought together over 150 practitioners, policymakers, researchers, funders, financial institutions and advocates to discuss the future of CSAs.
In addition to some of the usual sessions that CSA experts and allies are accustomed to attending—such as those focused on the latest research on CSAs and new funding and policy opportunities—the conference highlighted exciting CSA activity in the St. Louis area. At the welcome reception, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones announced the launch of the new St. Louis College Kids program, which is opening CSAs for all incoming kindergarten students (roughly 4,000 per year) in St. Louis Public Schools and St. Louis City Charter Schools. What’s more, at the conference’s opening session, Rev. Starsky Wilson, the co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, spoke eloquently about the importance of wealth building for children and noted that CSAs are one of the key recommendations in the Ferguson Commission’s report.
Beyond these ongoing discussions, there was a fascinating session on CSAs and 529 accounts featuring three programs that aren’t as widely recognized as the San Francisco Kindergarten to College (K2C) or the Maine Alfond College Challenge programs and that also use 529 accounts as their savings product. We learned that:
- Beyond Housing has now opened more than 1,000 CSAs for kindergarten students in the Normandy School District (right next to Ferguson in the St. Louis metro area) as part of the 24:1 Promise program. As part of this program, Beyond Housing provides each enrolling saver with an initial deposit of $500 in a Missouri MOST 529 college savings account.
- Promise Indiana has helped to open over 5,000 CSAs for kids across the state. Launched in Wabash County, Promise Indiana now operates in eight counties with 12 more communities planning their own Promise accounts programs in the next two years.
- Nevada College Kick-Start has now opened almost 99,000 CSAs across the state. Each kindergartener in the state receives a $50 starter deposit in an “omnibus” account held by the state treasurer.