Last month, San Francisco mayor Mayor Gavin Newsom announced a new initiative that would provide a college savings account for every kindergartener entering San Francisco's public school program. EARN, a California non-profit that promotes wealth creation among low-income families, has pledged to match the first $100 of a family's savings in each account.
We're excited about this announcement. We're in the business of asset building ourselves, and we're always happy to see new initiatives that promote it. Savings have been linked to everything from economic mobility to low foreclosure rates to international development. And in this specific case, savings have been correlated with higher rates of college attendance: a recent study by Washington University's Center for Social Development showed that youth who expect to attend college and have some savings designated toward it are four to seven times more likely to attend college than those who don't.
Moreover, there are several aspects of this initiative we think are particularly important. First, it helps make savings relevant by focusing on a specific life goal: education. This may encourage many people to save who otherwise may not have given it much thought. Second, it encourages families to start saving early, when their kids are in kindergarten. Establishing an account when the child is young gives the account the time it needs to grow. Finally, it sends the message that it's okay to start small — with just $50 — and that even modest sums saved over long periods of time can show results.
We'll be watching this initiative carefully over the next few years to see what happens. This could be a great program, and we'd like to see more like it.
CEO and co-founder