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Children’s Savings Account Program For Students in the Salishan Neighborhood of Tacoma, Wash.

In the Fall of 2015, the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA), in partnership with Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) and other partners, began offering children’s savings accounts (CSAs) for the children of the Salishan neighborhood in Tacoma, Wash. This program helps students, and their families, aspire to college, prepare for it, pay for it and feel they belong when they go.

  • Students who participate fully, with their families, from kindergarten through high school will accumulate a balance up to $9,700. The program’s contribution to this balance will be available only if a student graduates from high school and enrolls in a qualified college or training program. The money will be available only for the cost of attendance (e.g, tuition, fees, books, housing, food, transportation).
  • Students who do not complete the journey will forsake THA’s contribution to the accounts. THA will use those unused amounts to fund future cohorts of students.
  • It gets unbanked families banked.
  • It teaches parents and students how to manage money and how to use banking services. The Program at Lister Elementary School will use the Junior Achievement financial literacy curriculum in the classroom. (Financial training of this sort is more effective when the children and the parents have real money of their own to contemplate. The CSA will give it to them.)
  • It knits the region’s most diverse neighborhood together by eliciting and enlisting its shared hope and expectation that its children will graduate from high school and go to college.
  • Parents will receive resources and notices of upcoming events for financial literacy classes available in the area. It’s not a requirement that parents attend.

As companion goals, the program seeks to improve the financial literacy of the students and parents.

  • THA will collaborate with Lister to teach the Junior Achievement financial literacy curriculum in the classroom.
  • Parents will be provided with resources and notices of upcoming events for financial literacy classes available in the area. It’s not a requirement that parents attend.
  • The program will also help encourage parents to become banked (if not already doing so). Financial training of this sort is more effective when the children and the parents have real money to contemplate, as the CSA will give them.

THA plans this effort in collaboration with Tacoma Public Schools (TPS), Prosperity Now, initial funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bamford Foundation, Heritage Bank, other funders and social service partners in Tacoma.

 

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The Urban Institute will serve as the third-party evaluator tracking and assessing an array of medium and long-term metrics. The main long term ones are high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates and college graduation rates.

THA’s fund raising is well underway. Further funding will determine the scope and schedule for this initiative’s expansion.

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