City-Led Children's Savings Account (CSA)
Research and practice shows that when a child has a savings account - even if that account holds less than $500 - he or she is three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate. CSAs are trying to solve (e.g., low college going and completion rates) as well as how CSAs help families and students pursue a key goal such as expanded/increased financial capability.
Locally-led CSA programs, often include the following components:
• A savings account,
• Parent/guardian engagement in helping with deposits,
• Incentives to save, such as cash matches, and
• Financial education for children and their parents/guardians
City-led CSA Learning Collaborative Overview
The National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families launched Preparing for Postsecondary Education through Children's Savings Accounts, an 11-city learning collaborative in August 2015. Supported by the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation, the goal of the learning collaborative was to deepen city leaders' understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of universal, automatic, and matched CSAs. By the end of the grant period in May 2016, the 11 project cities developed early blueprints for local action to implement or expand existing CSA initiatives.
Cities that participated in the Learning Collaborative include Boston, MA; Caldwell, ID; Durham, NC; Garden City, MI; Hattiesburg, MS; Lansing, MI; Louisville, KY; Oakland, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA and St. Louis, MO.
As part of the learning collaborative, cities have produced resources for engaging stakeholders and communicating with parents. These include:
• A Memorandum of Understanding with a school district
• A mayor's presentation to stakeholders
• Communication with English-speaking and Spanish-speaking parents, including:
o A program launch announcement flyer
o A welcome letter
o A kickoff event invitation
o An announcement of a "savings week"
• A press release announcing a pilot launch
• A one-pager describing a program's first year
• A one-pager for a more technical audience
2015 Boston Cross-City Convening
The YEF Institute, in collaboration with the City of Boston's Mayor's Office of Workforce Development, hosted a convening in Boston in September 2015 with representatives from all 11 cites involved in the learning collaborative. The purpose of the convening was for the senior-level city staff to gain knowledge about strategies to develop or expand city-led children's savings account programs. Topics covered included account structures and technology platforms, partner and family engagement, and data sharing and collection. Attendees also learned about the successes and challenges of their peers' programs and strategies as well as insights from a wide-range of experts working on CSAs both nationally and from across the Northeast.