Two weeks ago, amid the collision of a public health crisis, an economic recession, and an inflection point in our country’s history of racial inequality and racial justice, families across New York City celebrated the end of an unprecedented school year. In School District 30 in Queens — one of the most diverse districts in the country and the hardest hit by COVID-19 — we also celebrated the fact that nearly every K-2 student completed the school year with a real financial asset already set aside for their college and career training futures through the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program.
June marked the end of the Save for College Program’s pilot phase in District 30. Over the past three-plus years, stakeholders from the public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors have come together with school partners, community leaders, and thousands of families to lay the groundwork for a universal, community-driven wealth-building platform. We have worked together to create a model that expands access to mainstream financial products, drives real financial assets into the hands of Black and Brown families and communities of color who have been systematically excluded from wealth-building opportunities for generations, and brings schools and communities together to support all of their children’s educational futures.
In the coming months, we plan to share more stories of the creativity and brilliance of our partners who have built this platform with us. From the hundreds of families and community members who celebrated “529 Day” across the district this year, to the Astoria Houses Tenants Organization’s effort to equip each of the 134 participating students living in Astoria Houses with at least $1,000 in their NYC Scholarship Account, this community continues to work together to support economic opportunity and justice for all of their kids. We at NYC Kids RISE are honored to do what we can to support them.
Please read more about these and other stories from the Save for College Program’s pilot phase below. We look forward to sharing more soon and embarking on this next phase together.
Wishing you and your loved ones well,
The Astoria Houses Tenants Organization has launched a fundraising effort to raise $1,000 for each of the 134 students enrolled in the Save for College Program living in Astoria Houses. Claudia Coger, president of the Tenants Organization, has been leading and fighting for decades so that Astoria Houses can be a springboard of opportunity for the children that live there. These past few months have made it even more clear just how much this community has been up against. Contributing to this campaign is a way to immediately support these children’s dreams with a financial foundation for their future.
This is the first-ever NYC Housing Authority Resident Association-led campaign to raise funds for their community’s accounts, and it is another demonstration of how this platform can be used to shift resources toward communities that have been historically excluded from wealth-building opportunities.
“This is not only a real financial foundation that our children can rely on in 10+ years when they graduate from high school and set off on their career path. It is also sending them a message TODAY that their community believes in them and knows they can succeed. With all the fear and pain our children are living through right now, that message is in some ways more important than ever.”Claudia Coger, President of the Astoria Houses Tenants Organization
By the numbers…
- 10,000+ – Total kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students enrolled, regardless of immigration status or income (95% of all eligible students)
- 39 – Participating district and charter schools across School District 30 including Astoria, Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Woodside
- 40+ – Community organizations and businesses involved in Community Scholarship campaigns and events
- $3.6M+ – Total assets accumulated to date for participating students’ college and career futures, including contributions from NYC Kids RISE, community scholarships, and families’ own savings
- 5,000+ – Families have activated and viewed their child’s NYC Scholarship Accounts online
- 1,600+ – Families have opened or connected their own 529 or bank account through the platform
- 6+ – Policy changes to the NY 529 plan made in response to requests and feedback from the Save for College Program Community, including eliminating minimum deposits, full Spanish-language materials and support, and more
- 6 – Community based organizations part of a community of practice to integrate the Save for College Program into their programming and services, with support from Citi Community Development
- 7,600+ – Total attendees at Save for College Program events
Words From A Parent
“It was like magic at the perfect moment that I needed help, I got internet service so they can continue their school work because teachers had told me that if they did not do remote learning, it would be as if they were absent from school.”
Rohel Juarez, P.S. 148 parent of a first-grader in the Save for College Program, shared how the $150 emergency resource helped his family during a NY1 Noticias interview.
NYC Kids RISE is distributing more than $850,000 in emergency cash relief to more than 5,600 participating families which included Rohel Suarez, thanks to the Gray Foundation, Robin Hood’s Relief Fund, the Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation, District Council 9 and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, and others.
NYC Kids RISE is hiring five critical roles to support the next phase of our work in School District 30 and beyond. Please help us spread the word. To view the full job descriptions for our current openings, visit www.nyckidsrise.org/careers.
#Together529 virtual library of community support for students’ futures
Ahead of and on 529 Day, many of you along with families, schools and others in the community came together to share you stories and support children’s dreams for their future on social media via the #Together529 and #Juntos529 hashtags. Check out all the posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
What We’re Reading
Gotham Gazette: Building a Financial Foundation for Our Children’s Future on 529 Day
📰 The New York Times: The Stark Racial Inequity of Personal Finances in America
The New York Times Magazine: What Is Owed
NYN Media: Leader to Leader: Emma Jordan-Simpson
📰 Huffington Post: A Semester Of Trauma, Sickness And Death At A New York School
ICYMI: NYC Kids RISE Community Town Halls
In response to feedback from families, NYC Kids RISE launched biweekly Town Halls for the Save for College Program community. Through these virtual events, streamed LIVE on Facebook and YouTube, we are bringing together families and other experts to discuss timely and important topics, including remote learning, financial resources, racial justice, and more. In addition to providing practical information from experts in these fields, these Town Halls provide a forum for families within the Save for College Program to highlight and to share their own rich expertise and experiences with one another and the broader community. To date, there have been approximately 5,000 views of our six Town Halls.
Small steps to big college dreams
Find out how:
The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program provides families, schools, and communities with a way to work together to save for their children’s futures. It’s a scholarship and savings program designed to make college and career training more accessible and achievable for all NYC public school students—regardless of their family’s income or immigration status. The Save for College Program is a tool that families, along with their schools and neighbors, can use and customize in the way that best fits into their lives and best supports their dreams for their children. NYC Kids RISE, a nonprofit organization, manages the Save for College Program in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the City of New York.
Founding support provided by the Gray Foundation.