BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Kicking off the new year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a free tuition program for low-income New York college students. However, the future is looking even brighter for the kindergarten children of School District 30, who were chosen to pilot the first New York City Child Savings Account Program.
Last Friday, New York City School Chancellor Carmen Fariña, chair of NYC Kids RISE Julie Menin, the Gray Foundation’s Mindy and Jon Gray, and deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives Richard Buery made the announcement at P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst in Astoria, with local elected officials such as Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) in attendance.
“One of the most important things we can do to help more young people get on the path to college graduation, and after that, into successful careers, is helping them and their families understand that college is possible and build a financial plan to get there,” said Buery. “Research has shown that even a modest college savings account can have a massive impact on college matriculation and persistence. As the first to benefit from the CSA program, District 30 families will play a critical role in developing this program for families across the city.”
The pilot, which will go into effect this fall, would allocate $100 to approximately 3,500 District 30 kindergarteners through their individual scholarship accounts. There will be no cost to participate in the program, and starting this fall, every kindergartener will automatically be enrolled in the program. During the three-year pilot period, approximately 10,000 children will be a part of the initiative.
School District 30, which encompasses Astoria, Ditmars, East Elmhurst, Hunter’s Point, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, was selected following a quantitative and qualitative analysis of all 32 geographic school districts in New York City. The analysis identified a district that was both representative of the public school population with respect to poverty levels, ethnicity, English language learners and students with disabilities, and also had the infrastructure in place to support the pilot program.
“Providing students with financial tools and the benefits of long-term savings plans helps make college more attainable for our youth,” said Dromm, who is also the City Council Education Committee chairperson. “All students should have the opportunity to attend college regardless of their economic status, and this initiative is an investment in our children’s future. I am thrilled that the pilot will be launching in School District 30 where many families struggle with the financial burden of college tuition. This initiative will help students achieve their full potential.”
Also in attendance were families whose children will be affected by this program.
“I’m a mother of four children and this program is very important to me because it’s to better their future, to get better jobs and to better their social skills,” said mother Julissa Acevedo as she held her daughter, four-year-old Juliette Sanchez, who said she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. “I have a son who just graduated college, so I know how important that is, especially with him being the first in my family to graduate, and I also have a second child currently in college. To me, the savings program will also allow for my youngest children to achieve their goals and to prosper in their lives.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org