Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Savings for Success provides financial support for elementary school students

Illustration by Isabel Su
All families of District 65 kindergarten students can enroll in the program.

In 2018, YWCA Evanston/North Shore and the Evanston Community Foundation began creating college savings accounts and providing financial support for children participating in a pilot program aptly named Savings for Success. 

The groups initially partnered with parents at Community Organizing and Family Issues before contacting pre-K programs and childcare centers. 

Savings for Success began offering savings accounts for kindergarten students in two schools at Evanston/Skokie School District 65 for the 2022-23 school year. And, starting with the 2023-24 school year, kindergarten students in any District 65 school will be able to benefit from the program. 

The program’s webpage cites a study conducted at Washington University in St. Louis, which found that low-to-moderate-income children with college savings under $500 are three times more likely to attend college and four-and-a-half times more likely to graduate. 

However, the program’s benefits extend beyond monetary support. It enables students and families to begin planning for their futures, according to YWCA Director of Economic Advancement Kristin Drake.

“The earlier you can start with starting to save, the better, not only in regards to the amount of money that you’re saving but also … ingraining concepts around financial practices and healthy financial practices and knowledge around that,” she said. 

According to the program’s webpage, families can create a Bright Start 529 saving plan to store their children’s college savings. Students automatically receive $50 by enrolling in Savings for Success, and those receiving free and reduced-price meals at school receive an additional $50. 

Students can receive up to $100 in additional funds, for a total of $200, if their families continue to deposit funds in their accounts, join YWCA’s financial education programs or participate in YWCA’s Walk Into Your Future event in May.

ECF will fund the program, and is including donations from community members. YWCA and Evanston Cradle to Career will meet with community organizations and leaders to build relationships and ensure the program is accessible, according to YWCA Financial Wellness Coordinator Fabiola Zdrubecky.

Lee Hart, the extended learning manager at District 65, said Savings for Success is a “vote of confidence and support to the young people and their families” as the district works to prepare students for high school and beyond. 

Sixth-grade students in District 65 will be able to enroll in the program starting in the 2024-25 school year. The district currently offers a college and career program starting in sixth grade. 

Savings for Success can help reduce historical wealth and opportunity gaps in Evanston by helping more students prepare for the future, said ECF President and Chief Executive Officer Sol Anderson.

“This is such a perfect example of listening to the people in the community, bringing together the right partners and then the resources,” he said. “This is a perfect example of how it can all come together to do something that’s good for our entire community.” 

Email: [email protected]

X: @edwardsimoncruz

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