NYC Kids RISE Unveils New Online Portal for Child Savings Account Program to Help Public School Students Save for College

March 5, 2018

Families Who Complete Three Steps to Start Saving for College Can Earn Additional Funds Toward their NYC Scholarship Accounts on Top of a $100 Seed Investment

$500,000 from Citi Community Development Adds to Initial $10 Million Grant from the Gray Foundation to Support Program’s Parent and Community Engagement

Credit: Paula Vlodkowsky

NYC Kids RISE announced today the opening of the first NYC Scholarship Accounts – college savings accounts for over 3,000 kindergartners in Queens public schools. The NYC Scholarship Accounts are part of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, a scholarship and savings program designed to make college more accessible and achievable for all NYC public school students, starting with kindergartners in School District 30 in Queens.

Through the support of the Gray Foundation, each NYC Scholarship Account has been funded with an initial $100, and the new “Savings Tracker” online portal allows families to earn an additional $75 towards their children’s accounts this year. This Savings Tracker platform allows families to view their children’s NYC Scholarship Accounts, open their own 529 college savings accounts, and earn additional funds for their children’s futures.

Julie Menin, Chair of NYC Kids RISE, and Mindy Gray of the Gray Foundation joined parents and students at PS2 in Queens for a hands-on demonstration on how to use the new Savings Tracker in a kick-off workshop and conversation. Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, also attended the workshop.

As part of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, over 3,000 kindergartners in School District 30 automatically received a $100 NYC Scholarship Account this year. This represents over 94% of kindergartners enrolled in a participating District 30 public school in Fall 2017. Families can earn up to an additional $200 in rewards toward their children’s scholarship accounts through third grade. Some 10,000 children in District 30 will be enrolled in the program during its first three years.

These efforts are the first steps in a long-term partnership with families, schools, and communities to save together for every child’s college future. NYC Kids RISE provides tools and resources to empower families to start saving while their children are young and continue saving throughout their children’s school years. In the future, NYC Kids RISE will also enable community members to contribute to participating children’s college savings accounts.

“The opportunity to watch your child’s college savings account grow is a wonderful incentive to keep investing in their future. And the fact that just by signing up you can earn additional funds is a tremendous bonus,” said Julie Menin, Chair of NYC Kids RISE and Media and Entertainment Commissioner for New York City. “We’re committed to investing in every child’s college education because we know all the research shows that investing early, even in small increments, dramatically increases their chances of attending—and graduating from—college. The new Savings Tracker enables families to track the growth of this investment and take more control of their financial futures.”

Jon Gray, co-Founder of the Gray Foundation, said: “Today is an exciting step for the students, parents, teachers and broader community involved in this pilot program. Mindy and I believe that a key step in encouraging further investments is making the system functional and easily accessible for families. We look forward to a New York City where all children have an opportunity to reach their highest potential.”

The launch of the new Savings Tracker allows families to complete the Save for College Program’s “Three Building Blocks”. These are the three foundational steps families can take to start engaging with the program, and each one comes with a $25 reward toward the child’s NYC Scholarship Account on top of the original $100 seed deposit—if families complete it by the end of the school year (June 26, 2018).

These Three Building Blocks of NYC Kids RISE’s partnership with families are as follows:

  1. Building Block 1: Registering to view their child’s NYC Scholarship Account on the new Savings Tracker and completing a short survey;
  2. Building Block 2: Opening their own college savings account—either a New York’s 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan account or an Amalgamated Save for College Bank Account—and connecting it to their child’s scholarship account;
  3. Building Block 3: Making a deposit of at least $5 into their newly opened college savings account.

“We are thrilled to announce that more than 3,000 children have received NYC Scholarship Accounts for their college futures, and we are excited to be partnering with families to further increase their college savings before the school year ends,” said Debra-Ellen Glickstein, Executive Director of NYC Kids RISE. “The Savings Tracker and the 3 Building Blocks are the foundation of a long-term partnership with families and communities to save together for every child’s college future. This is just the beginning of our efforts to work together to make sure every child has an asset available to support their higher education.”

“All American families, regardless of their economic situation, deserve the opportunity to develop savings for their children. These early investments can make a dramatic difference in children’s financial stability later in their life, and I’m proud to see New York taking the lead to develop innovative programs to spur savings,” said Congressman Crowley. “I commend NYC Kids RISE for implementing this idea on a local level for schoolchildren right here in Queens.”

“More than 3,000 kindergartners having NYC Scholarship Accounts opened for them is an exciting milestone and a significant jump start for their future,” said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “As the cost of obtaining a college education continues to rise, saving now helps offset the costs of future expenses. New York’s 529 College Savings Program is one of the best performing in the nation, and we’re proud to support this important program.”

In November of 2017, New York City and State officials announced another groundbreaking step in making incremental, long-term college savings accessible to all—the removal of a minimum contribution to open an NY 529 Direct Plan account, an unnecessary hurdle for low- and moderate-income families.

With $500,000 from Citi Community Development, NYC Kids RISE will expand its outreach and informational materials and launch a new Neighborhood Ambassadors Program. NYC Kids RISE Neighborhood Ambassadors are a team of part-time staff who will bring their diverse skills and their familiarity with District 30’s diverse communities to support families in completing the three Building Blocks and incorporate their feedback into the evolution of the Save for College Program. Citi Community Development’s early support for NYC Kids RISE also enabled the production of messaging and programmatic materials, including material in ten languages, translation and interpretation support, and the development of culturally-relevant community partnership strategies that reflect the ethnic, linguistic and economic diversity of the school district launching the program.

“NYC Kids RISE offers a comprehensive approach to empowering children and their families that will enable more young New Yorkers to save and turn their dreams of college education into a reality,” said Eileen Auld, New York Tristate Director, Citi Community Development. “By offering program information and outreach materials in ten different languages, NYC Kids RISE will ensure this valuable program is accessible and reflects the rich diversity of New York City families.”

To date, NYC Kids RISE has been funded by a $10 million grant from the Gray Foundation. Dana Zucker, Executive Director of the Gray Foundation, said: “Our investment in NYC Kids RISE is driven by the belief that, through collaboration with exceptional partners in the City, we can build an innovative and impactful program that can be taken to scale. The platform unveiled today is an important step in realizing this goal.”

“The Save for College Program is leveling the playing field by putting thousands of families on the path to be able to save for college and providing them with the tools to help them invest in their child’s future,” said Dr. Philip A. Composto, District 30 Superintendent‎. “This program builds on our work to remove obstacles, including eliminating the CUNY application fee for low-income students, offering the SAT during the school day for free, and investing in a college-going culture through College Access for All.”

Also announced today, Amalgamated Bank has partnered with NYC Kids RISE to offer an Amalgamated Save for College Bank Account as one account option families can choose to start saving for their children’s education through the Save for College Program. This savings account names the child as the beneficiary and allows families to deposit and save money for their child’s education, earning interest on their deposits over time. To open an Amalgamated Save for College Bank Account, parents can visit an Amalgamated branch or call 800-662-0860 for more information.

Keith Mestrich, CEO of Amalgamated Bank, said: “Amalgamated is proud to be a part of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, which empowers New York City families to save for their children’s future. We have always been committed to doing our part to strengthen and contribute to the communities in which we do business, and with the Amalgamated Save for College Bank Accounts we hope make higher education more achievable for New York City’s young students and their families. We applaud NYC Kids RISE and Mayor de Blasio for championing this innovative program and we are excited to help make a difference.”

“We are thrilled to be supporting the launch of this new online portal, creating a technology platform that enables New York City families to improve the way they save for their children’s futures,” said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. “We are dedicated to empowering New Yorkers with technology solutions and services like these as we work towards making this the fairest big city in America.”

“We are proud to work with the NYC Kids RISE to support families as they begin the important journey of saving for their children’s college education,” said NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Since 2014, student loan debt has increased from $260 billion to roughly $1.4 trillion, making these early savings accounts more important than ever. Our Office of Financial Empowerment is committed to helping ease the financial burden caused by student loans and encourage parents to visit one of our Financial Empowerment Centers to learn about ways to tackle debt, save for the future, and much more.”

“The launch of the NYC Scholarship Accounts and Savings Tracker portal is an exciting next step in the pilot phase of this innovative program,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “The Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity has supported the Save for College Program’s program design, research, and evaluation efforts, and we look forward to continuing to work with NYC Kids RISE to understand and increase the program’s impact on reducing poverty and broadening college access.”

“Prosperity Now is thrilled that, with the launch of NYC Kids RISE, New York City has joined the children’s savings movement nationwide. Moreover, with the creation of the new online savings portal, NYC Kids RISE is playing a leading role in demonstrating how best to engage parents and children in making children’s savings accounts a success. We encourage cities across America to follow NYC’s lead and help all children build savings and aspirations for college success,” said Andrea Levere, President of Prosperity Now.

There is no cost to participate in the Save for College Program, and every kindergarten student enrolled in public school in District 30 was automatically enrolled in the program starting in the fall unless their family chose not to participate. Pending a successful pilot program, the Save for College Program’s goal will be to expanded to provide a universal scholarship account to every child in the New York City public school system. NYC Kids RISE, the nonprofit overseeing the program, plans to launch efforts to raise additional private funds to support the ongoing costs of the program and to explore opportunities to expand it. More information about NYC Kids RISE and the Save for College Program can be found at

About NYC Kids RISE

NYC Kids RISE is a nonprofit organization working to expand economic opportunity and equity by providing families, schools, and communities with a way to work together to save for their children’s education. Building on the dreams and expectations that families have for their children’s futures, NYC Kids RISE aims to make attending and graduating from college more achievable for all NYC public school students—regardless of where they come from or how much their families have in the bank.

NYC Kids RISE manages the Save for College Program in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the City of New York.

About Amalgamated Bank
For nearly a century, Amalgamated Bank has been the most trusted financial institution for progressive people and organizations. By helping those who do good do better, we work to help make the world more just, compassionate and sustainable. Our extensive experience, financial resources and community of like-minded customers offers labor unions, philanthropies, political campaigns, socially and environmentally responsible corporations, as well as individuals, a unique set of financial services enabling them to lead the charge to improve our communities and our country.

About Gray Foundation

The Gray Foundation was founded in 2014 by Jon and Mindy Gray.  The Foundation is committed to maximizing access to education, healthcare and opportunity for low-income children in New York. In addition, the Basser Initiative @ Gray Foundation is focused on funding initiatives to advance the care of individuals living with BRCA gene mutations.

About Citi Community Development

Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, we harness Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all.

Additional information may be found at | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: | Blog | Facebook: | LinkedIn:

About the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment assists New Yorkers by developing and offering innovative programs and services to increase access to high-quality, free financial education and counseling, safe and affordable financial products, and access to income-boosting tax credits and savings. The City’s Financial Empowerment Centers offer free, one-on-one financial counseling to help New Yorkers tackle debt, save for the future, open a bank account, improve credit, and much more. Parents can call 311 or visit DCA’s website to schedule a free and confidential appointment.


Daniel Backman, NYC Kids RISE, 718-593-1694, [email protected]

Janet Allon, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, 212-974-4023, [email protected]

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