BOSTON (CBS) — It’s day one of kindergarten in Boston Public Schools, and each of the 5-year-olds started out with $50. The program is called Boston Saves and on Monday, it became citywide.
The money is to get families started on saving for college or other career training.
At the Roosevelt School in Hyde Park, kindergarten kicked off with excitement and nervousness. “It’s probably harder for me than it is for my son. A lot of tears all around,” said parent Jennifer Maylone during drop off.
The budding scholars didn’t know it, but they were getting some money. “Every child, so over 4,000 kindergartners today, get $50 seed money,” explained Gosia Tomaszewska, who manages Boston Saves.
It started as a pilot program three years ago in 11 schools.
“It kind of makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing,” said Esmirna Soto, whose son Ezekial was in the pilot program. Esmirna works for the school system. “I think it’s great because it helps parents start having those conversations early about planning for college,” she added.
Each student is automatically enrolled in Boston Saves. They can’t touch the $50 until after high school and only for college or other job training. Parents can also earn incentive payments. “They get incentives for linking their accounts, they get incentives for saving regularly,” Tomaszewska said.
The seed money won’t grow for the child. Instead, any interest will go back into the program. And of course, $50 won’t even buy most college textbooks, but the goal is a lot broader.
“We are giving people a tool and money, but really what we’re trying to do is start parents and kids thinking about the future early on. What is a better way to invest in the future of Boston and Boston’s families than investing in our kids,” Tomaszewska said.
The cost of Boston Saves is about $200,000 dollars for the city each year. There are also contributions from the private sector and non-profits. The state is piloting a similar program that goes statewide next year.