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San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College Program Celebrates New Milestone: Half of All Public School Students Have CSA

For many in the financial empowerment and asset building fields, San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College (K2C) program has been a model Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program to watch and replicate. Established in 2011, it was the first universal, public CSA program in the country. K2C provides $50 seeded, matched savings accounts to every incoming public school kindergarten student in San Francisco. Since then, other cities such as St. Louis, MO, and Oakland, CA, have used lessons from San Francisco to help inform the design and development of their municipal CSA programs.

On October 6, members of Prosperity Now’s staff participated in an event in San Francisco called, “Our Children, Their Futures,” celebrating how far the K2C program has come in seven years and their plans for continued improvement going forward. Treasurer José Cisneros served as the emcee and provided program updates along with staff from San Francisco’s Office of Financial Empowerment, San Francisco Unified School District, Citi and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. City Supervisor, Malia Cohen, described K2C as a, “perfect example of public dollars manifesting and doing good.” In addition, there was a community partner panel which included parents of K2C savers, a family resource coordinator, and a principal of a local elementary school. In describing her involvement in K2C, one parent said, “I save a little bit at a time. I am creating a path of expectation and a path of hope. Every parent wants the best for their child. This is one way to actively do that.”

K2C’s program successes include:

  • Over 30,0000 public school students automatically enrolled in the program with a Children’s Savings Account
  • $5.2 million saved in the accounts of which $2.9 million has been contributed by families
  • $2.4 million committed by the City and County of San Francisco
  • $800,000 raised in private funds for incentives, including over $500,000 via Prosperity Now’s 1:1 Fund
  • 90 schools participating; 25% 7th graders, 60% 6th graders, and 100% K-5th graders have K2C accounts
  • $575 on average saved by all K2C savers
  • 49% of K2C savers are on free/reduced lunch and have saved on average $667

Even with this impressive list of successes, K2C’s leadership and staff deserve much credit for wanting to improve their program further in the coming years. The “Our Children, Their Future“ event ended with a community engagement brainstorming session and strategic planning led by Prosperity Now, Ideas 42, and the Mott Foundation. Here are some of the areas in which K2C hopes to make further improvements:

  • Promote new K2C program incentives to increase family engagement and savings participation this fall
  • Provide supports to school staff to improve awareness in, and deepen engagement with, the K2C program
  • Invest in strategic communications and marketing related to the K2C program to create greater community buy-in
  • Improve account management technology which will allow for varied banking, deposit, and communications options for the K2C program

For more information about San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College program, visit sfgov.org/k2c. If you’d like more information on starting a CSA program, or connecting with others in the children’s savings field, visit Prosperity Now’s Campaign for Every Kid’s Future website at savingsforkids.org.