Osgood, In. — College may seem far away to kindergarteners, but this fall, Jac-Cen-Del Elementary will bring post-secondary education and careers front of mind for elementary youth and their families through a collaborative effort called “The Promise.” The program makes educational savings a reality by helping families start a CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings account through their school, seeding the account with an initial investment from a local or regional sponsor, and rallying the community to match deposits that families and champions contribute to the account. Ripley County is among the newest group of communities to launch The Promise program, with the support of Promise Indiana, the Indiana Education Savings Authority, and Lilly Endowment, Inc.
During school registration, The Promise helps families take that first step to start saving, while also integrating college and career discovery activities in the classroom. Pilot counties select a cohort of students to participate, based on community size. Youth in the program not only build assets for post-secondary education and learn about college and careers, but they also visit a college campus for a day of interactive learning and dynamic hands-on experiences called “Walk Into My Future.” Ivy Tech Columbus will host the event this fall, with college students and faculty leading campus tours and activity stations for elementary-aged youth.
Research from the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion at the University of Kansas shows that youth with a college savings account in their name are between three and four and half times more likely to go to college than those without an account. CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings accounts can be used at any eligible institution—2-year community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, even trade and technical schools. The Promise program began in Wabash County in 2013, and has expanded each year to new communities selected through a competitive application process. Since 2014, Benton, Blackford, Clay, Fulton, Hancock, Howard, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, Porter, Steuben, and Whitley counties have started local Promise programs, as well as Lawrenceburg (Dearborn County) and select communities in Indianapolis (Marion County).
“It was evident that the team from Jac-Cen-Del had the drive and partnerships to make this a success for the students and families in their community,” said Phil Maurizi, VP of Operations for Promise Indiana. “We look forward to working with all the collaborators to achieve absolute success in their first year, but also to making The Promise program better and stronger with their innovation. Their work will impact not only local youth, but communities around the state of Indiana.”
To get The Promise underway, Jac-Cen-Del has assembled a steering committee of local partners including school districts, community and private foundations, local businesses and government, economic development groups, and nonprofits. After setting up their college savings account, youth invite champions—friends, family members, neighbors, coaches, and teachers—to invest in their college savings accounts. Youth who raise $25 in contributions from their champions will receive a matching deposit from a coalition of local partners.
To date, over 13,000 youth around the state have started a CollegeChoice 529 direct savings account through The Promise program. To learn more or get involved with The Promise, contact Travis Rohrig at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.PromiseIndiana.org.