Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Porter Celebrate Launch of Universal NYC Baby Bonds
September 15, 2021
Historic expansion of NYC Kids RISE Save for College program to reach 70,000+ kindergarteners each year
Every public school kindergartener in NYC to have access to college and career savings account this school year
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Chancellor Meisha Porter and kindergarteners from The Williamsburg Bridge Magnet School today to kick off New York City’s first-ever “Baby Bonds” program, a citywide expansion of the community-driven NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program. This public-private-community partnership provides families, schools, and communities access to a universal scholarship and savings platform, regardless of a family’s income or immigration status.
“For New York to come back stronger than before the pandemic, we must address the widening wealth gap that holds so many kids back from opportunities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This historic investment in our children’s futures will pay dividends for generations to come, helping us build a just recovery for all.”
“The racial wealth gap – persistent in every financial indicator from home ownership to savings – is a brutal driver of inequality and opportunity,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “How many hopes and dreams have withered on the vine because the money was not there to make them real? The City’s expansion of NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is an investment in our children’s futures. Now, every kindergartner enrolled in a City public school can have a scholarship account, with the opportunity to save money and to multiply those savings. We should all applaud this wonderful public-private-community partnership, which is available regardless of income or immigration status.”
“The NYC College Savings program reflects our shared investment in an inclusive future,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “This is a truly unique platform that harnesses the collective investment of families, community and faith leaders, government, business, and philanthropy in the future of our City. It is a proven model for addressing racial disparities in access to college savings accounts. I applaud the leaders in District 30 who made this vision a reality and look forward to working with families, community leaders, and partners who will make this program a success citywide.”“The Save for College Program is all about investing in the future of New York City’s children, and this expansion will provide every Kindergarten student citywide with the resources to chase their dreams as they grow up,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “This administration has made unprecedented investments in early childhood, and now thanks to our partners at NYC Kids RISE, we can help make sure our babies are set up for success in college, their careers, and beyond.”
“Far too many families and communities don’t have access to the tools and resources needed to save for a child’s future,” said Sideya Sherman, Executive Director of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity. “By investing in our children from an early age, we can dramatically increase their chances of long-term success inside and outside the classroom. We have seen firsthand the power of communities coming together through the Save for College Program to ensure every young person in their neighborhood has a fighting chance at getting a college degree. Now, New York City is giving all of our public school students, families and communities across the five boroughs that same opportunity.”
“College savings accounts can catalyze new possibilities, and as a supporter of NYC Kids RISE since its inception, our office is thrilled that the initiative is now citywide,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “These universal scholarship accounts provide a practical vehicle for savings, an opportunity to galvanize additional community support for its children, a signal that post-secondary learning can be for everyone, and a tangible demonstration of the City’s belief in investing in all of our children’s potential.”
Starting this year, every kindergartener enrolled in a New York City public school will have access to an NYC Scholarship Account, with $100 invested toward their future education and up to $200 in rewards. The historic expansion of this program will reach roughly 70,000 Kindergarteners citywide, up from over 13,000 students already participating in the program across School District 30 in Queens, which represent 95% of all eligible kindergarten, first-, second, and third-graders. This commitment was announced as part of the NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan with the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity last summer.
New York City is the first major city in the nation to implement this groundbreaking model for community wealth building that provides ways for stakeholders within each neighborhood and across the city—including schools, CBOs, local businesses, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations— to contribute to asset-building and promote community-wide expectations for students’ success from their first days of school.
With this announcement, the Mayor has guaranteed every family—regardless of income—is not only able to access free quality pre-school education but is also able to start saving early for college or career training after high school. Ultimately, this program has the potential to increase access to higher education, positioning students to earn higher incomes, take on less debt, and build wealth later in life, narrowing racial and socioeconomic disparities that hold too many children back. Research suggests that a child in a low-income household with a college savings account of just $1-500 is three times more likely to go to college and more than four times more likely to graduate than a child without an account.
The expansion of the Save For College Program, which NYC Kids RISE launched in partnership with the Department of Education (DOE) and the City with founding support from the Gray Foundation in 2017, signifies an investment in the financial and social resiliency of NYC’s families and neighborhoods, and it provides a new way to drive financial assets towards communities that have been systematically excluded from wealth-building opportunities. This milestone is the result of a broad effort from local leaders, partners, schools, businesses and parents in Queens who helped create a universal, community-driven wealth-building platform that is embedded in homes, schools, and neighborhoods.
These funds, including the funds that will accumulate progressively over time through Community Scholarships, can also reduce the amount that students and families borrow in student loans, combatting the student debt crisis that has disproportionately impacted students of color. Families will be receiving information about the program this fall through an “Education Period” and as students matriculate through school, they will have the opportunity to receive additional funding for their educational futures in the form of Community Scholarships.
“The New York City Save for College Program is a valuable tool for families to start investing in their loved ones’ education right away,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “I’m proud that my office has been able to assist in the creation of this vital program that is helping New Yorkers build savings and a brighter future. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Porter and the New York City Department of Education, the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, and NYC Kids RISE on the citywide expansion of this vital program.”
“After such a difficult year, it is thrilling to see New York City students return to school. We can’t just be focused on making up for the educational and socio-emotional losses of the past year, however; we must think about paving the way for greater success and achievement for all students in the years to come. The NYC Kids Rise program is a promising public-private partnership that will help ensure students and families have the resources they need to plan for their educational futures,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“Your income, race, gender, ethnicity and zip code should never dictate whether you can access higher education or economic opportunity,” said Congressman Ritchie Torres. “Expanding the Save for College Program citywide will help break down economic disparities and increase access to tools that allow families to save money and invest in the future of our children, ensuring that all New York City students have a chance to go to college and build generational wealth. I have been a long time champion of innovative approaches like this to end historic racial inequities in our city, and I look forward to helping to build an economy and educational system that works for all New Yorkers.”
“Unlocking opportunity for our children’s future will take generational efforts and I am proud we were able to get State support for this meaningful program by working with NYC Kids RISE and the Astoria Houses Tenants Association, who led the way in its establishment. I am thrilled the City is expanding it further and look forward to its successful implementation,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.
“I commend the Mayor and Chancellor for the expansion of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College program. Finances are often a barrier to education, this program aims to combat that by helping provide our young students with the resources necessary to obtain higher education when the time comes,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi.
“I am pleased to see that the NYC Kids RISE Save For College Program, which began as a pilot in District 30 and has been a great success in Queens, will be expanded city-wide this year,” said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan. “A help to families, and marking a bright beginning for so many students, this program represents the realization of a great deal of hard work and collaboration. My thanks to Debra-Ellen Glickstein and the many community groups who have made this project possible.”
“I am delighted to hear that Mayor de Blasio and New York City is investing into our children’s future through the Kids Rise’ citywide Saving for College Program. I’ve known many parents of public school students, from Pre-K to high school, who constantly worry about the cost of higher and continuing education for their children. This historic college savings program and investment by the City not only provides families some funding at the creation of their children’s college savings account, but also more importantly, provides the mental and physical space for families on their own to start saving for college. I look forward to making the Program a success.” said Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo.
“Here in Western Queens we have been a springboard for the pioneering Save for College Program that has not only provided college savings accounts for more than 13,000 of our students, but also brought our neighborhoods together to support all our children. With the rising costs of higher education, and the importance of building assets for college and career training as a strategy to help reduce educational and wealth disparities, the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program offers a meaningful part of the solution. Thank you to the Mayor for this unprecedented investment and your commitment to providing every NYC public school kindergartener with assets for their educational futures. Thank you to Chancellor Meisha Porter and the Department of Education, the Gray Foundation, NYC Kids RISE, my fellow Council Members and the hundreds of school and community leaders who contributed to building such a special and impactful initiative,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.
“I have championed the NYC Kids RISE program from its earliest days because I know that an investment in our youngest children today means we’re investing in a more equitable and prosperous future for our communities,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “I want to thank all the educators, parents, students, community members, and local businesses that have been a part of the Save for College Program to date, and I look forward to working with everyone to invest in our children, together, in the years to come.”
“By helping families build assets and investing in students early, we can make meaningful progress to close the racial wealth gap and level the playing field in our City,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “With this investment in college savings accounts and a broad base of community support behind our children, all students will have a fairer shot at higher education and a pathway to success.”
“The citywide expansion of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is a tremendous win for our children and families, especially from low-income and disadvantaged communities,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “This program will expand opportunities for our youth and allow our communities to support young people in their educational journey. I encourage all families to utilize the NYC Scholarship Account this year!”
“More than one in six—or approximately 1 million—NYC adults have at least one student loan and collectively they owe $34.8 billion—we simply can’t keep perpetuating this educational debt,” said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Peter A. Hatch. “Today’s expansion of Kids RISE’s Save for College Program is a historic step in ensuring that future New Yorkers do not continue to suffer the burden of student loan debt and that access to higher education is more equitable.”
“The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program was designed by hundreds of public, private, philanthropic, nonprofit and community partners coming together across School District 30 and beyond to create a tool that would help students and families build wealth, reinforce expectations of success for all our children, and prepare them for their educational and economic futures,” said Debra-Ellen Glickstein, founding Executive Director of NYC Kids RISE. “We’ve come together to create an infrastructure that allows every part of a child’s neighborhood – from schools, to their local businesses, to community based organizations and places of worship – to visibly and tangibly demonstrate support for their children and invest in their futures together. We look forward to continuing this public-private-community partnership and realizing the vision that every public school student in New York City will graduate with a meaningful financial asset for their future.”
“The Gray Foundation is proud to partner with the hundreds of community members and leaders that came together over the past five years across industries, sectors, and neighborhoods to help build the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, and pilot it throughout Community School District 30 in Queens. This wealth-building platform exemplifies the Gray Foundation’s dedication to expanding access to education and opportunity for youth across New York City. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Meisha Porter, the NYC Department of Education, the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Francisco Moya, and the entire City Council for their partnership,” said Mindy and Jon Gray, Co-Founders of the Gray Foundation. “As we move beyond the pilot phase, we are incredibly excited to deepen our partnership with the City of New York and the NYC Department of Education to expand this platform to every kindergarten student in New York City public schools.”
“Education opens doors to tremendous opportunity. Our youngest need to know that they have a whole neighborhood behind them cheering them on. I am so proud of what we have created with the Save for College Program and the impact we have seen in our community. This citywide investment in every kindergartener across NY public schools will make a significant impact in the years to come. I am thankful for all our partners who have joined us in investing in our children,” said Claudia Coger, President of the Astoria Houses Resident Association.
“The racial wealth gap is a persistent and growing challenge that impedes intergenerational economic opportunity for our communities. The Save for College Program provides an important infrastructure for the private, public and social sectors to progressively drive more resources into communities of color. In a moment when our city and country is focused on addressing the racial inequities that continue to create barriers to economic mobility in our communities, the Astoria Houses’ campaign to seed $1,000 for each child in the community was just the tip of the iceberg. The City’s commitment to expanding the Save for College Program to all of our children is an investment that will push the program to its full wealth-building potential,” said Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, Co-Founder of Urban Upbound and Senior Pastor of the Center of Hope International.
“I have seen firsthand what the Save for College Program has done for our community. I applaud the Mayor, the City, the NYC Department of Education and the Taskforce for Racial Inclusion and Equity for their investment in this universal community wealth building platform. I look forward to partnering to make it a citywide success,” said Reverend Patrick Young, First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst.
“NYC Kids RISE is thrilled to partner with the Chancellor and the NYC Department of Education, the Mayor and the City of New York, and the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity to ensure that all children across NYC have a meaningful financial asset for their futures. We know that having a small amount of savings from an early age leads to an increase in the likelihood of attending and succeeding in college and are proud that NYC can set an example for the country,” said Dana Zucker, NYC Kids RISE Board Chair and Executive Director of the Gray Foundation.
New Yorkers–especially low-income families, immigrant families, and communities of color–are systematically excluded from opportunities to build wealth,” said Lorelei Salas, Former Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer & Worker Protection and NYC Kids RISE Board Member. “As COVID-19 continues to exacerbate existing economic disparities, the Save For College Program offers a much-needed window of opportunity to help ensure every family can access the inclusive financial tools they need for long term growth and stability. We look forward to working with communities across New York City in the years ahead and are grateful to the Queens communities who helped shape the Program the last four years during its pilot phase.”
“The success of the Save For College Program in Queens School District 30 showed us that when we come together to build an entire community of support around our children — from their schools and local businesses to community-based organizations and places of worship — there is nothing we can’t do,” said Sheena Wright, CEO of United Way of New York City and NYC Kids RISE Board Member. “Now, with the city-wide expansion of the program, we have an opportunity to create a brighter future for all of our children — one that includes tangible resources and support for every child to reach their full potential.”
“The Save for College Program represents the best of how this city works, by bringing government, schools, nonprofits, and philanthropy together with community leaders and parents to encourage and support our young people’s educational aspirations,” said Richard Buery, CEO of Robin Hood and former NYC Kids RISE Board Member. “Bringing people together around an innovative program like this to drive wealth and opportunity to children across the city is the kind of spark we need to help our city recover. I am proud to have been a part of it since it was first introduced in Queens and know the power this model has to transform families’ expectations about what is possible for their children’s futures.”
“Achieving a universal child savings program where all public school students have access to this life changing program was a dream we had when we launched this program in 2016. To now see this become a reality, can mean the difference between a low income child attending college and realizing their dream. Today is a milestone in the full potential of public private partnerships and ensuring that all of our students have access to college and financial inclusion,” said Julie Menin, the former Commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and the founding Board Chair of NYC Kids RISE.
“For too long our young people have been asked to take on the challenges brought on by decades of disinvestment and discrimination on their own. And for too long we’ve tried to intervene with support too late. The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program provides us with a way to invest in our children and reinforce expectations of success from their earliest days in the classroom. This tool taps into the heart of each neighborhood and asks us what we can bring to the table to care for, and take accountability for all our children. I commend the Mayor, Sideya Sherman and the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, and the entire City for taking this program citywide, and I look forward to participating in its evolution” said Reverend Emma Jordan-Simpson, Executive Pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ.
“This initiative rightly recognizes that people are the source of our economic prosperity and growth. Setting all of our children up early for college and career success is critical to opening up economic opportunity and building an inclusive and equitable city,” said Jose Ortiz, Jr., CEO of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition. “Leveraging the power of whole communities to save over years for children to pursue college or vocational training changes the game for people of color, immigrants, and other historically underserved groups who are far too often left behind.”
“We are thrilled that the Save For College Program is being offered to students and families at charter schools throughout the city,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center. “Far too many children grow up thinking that college and higher education aren’t in the cards for them. Integrating this program into our schools will ensure every child knows their school and community is behind them to dream big and achieve their goals.”
“CCC has long championed a national child allowance and a citywide baby bond, as access to asset building opportunities put children and families on a path to achieve financial security and upward mobility,” said Jennifer A. March, Executive Director for Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “The research is clear. Having even a small amount of savings can foster children’s perception of themselves as college bound and increase their likelihood of attending and succeeding in college. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and our partners in the NYC Kids RISE program for building on their pilot efforts in Queens to make savings accounts available for every public school kindergartener starting this school year. This incredible initiative sets the stage for an economically secure future for New York City’s children.”
Here you can find a full description of the Mayor’s Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan.