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Universal Children’s Savings Accounts hold the key to a more prosperous future

A game-changing initiative is on the horizon, starting first in the City of Miami and then expanding countywide. By 2023, Future Bound Miami: Every Student Saves, seeks to establish universal Children’s Savings Accounts for all kindergarten students entering a Miami-Dade County public school.

Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are long-term investment accounts that help students and their families prepare financially for postsecondary education. Monetary incentives—including an initial “seed” incentive, as well as other possible incentives such as for good attendance, matches for family contributions, and more—help families grow their savings as high school graduation approaches. When the student graduates from a Miami-Dade County Public School (M-DCPS) high school, he or she will be able to take with them not only the savings contributed by the family, but also any accumulated incentives.

Family saving money to piggy bank

Beginning November 4, 2019, parents/guardians of kindergarten students attending an M-DCPS elementary school that feeds into one of five M-DCPS high schools located within the City of Miami will have one month to activate their child’s account via their parent portal. Activation is free, accounts have no fees, and there is no requirement that the parent or child save anything. For the program’s launch, the City of Miami will contribute an initial seed incentive of $25 for each kindergarten student whose parents activate their child’s account. Children who receive Free and Reduced-Price Meals will earn an additional $25 incentive. Families will also be able to access free financial capability-building curriculum.  

As the program grows over the next four years, other Miami-Dade families will also be able to activate their child’s CSA. Although funds to seed the first round of accounts within the City of Miami are secured, program expansion countywide will require support from other municipalities, foundations, corporations, and the community. We encourage municipalities to follow the City of Miami’s lead in providing seed funding and/or additional savings incentives as Future Bound Miami expands to their area. Foundation and corporate support will also be critical in creating a new financial and educational reality for our children.

While Future Bound Miami is the first program of its kind in Florida, as of 2017, 54 CSA programs were serving 381,000 children in 31 states and Washington, D.C. At scale, Future Bound Miami has the potential to be the largest CSA program in the country, positioning Miami-Dade students for postsecondary educational attainment and future leadership.

Establishing savings accounts for kindergarten students is pivotal to their educational and professional advancement. Peer-reviewed research demonstrates that CSAs improve early childhood development and academic performance, raise the college expectations of children and parents, and improve children’s future financial capability while reducing the wealth gap. University of Kansas research indicates that children with even small college savings accounts are seven times more likely to attend and graduate from college. In creating a future-minded mentality, we’ll also help ensure that students whose parents do not have post-secondary degrees—a factor negatively correlated to college completion—not only matriculate, but graduate.

Creating a post-secondary mindset is critical not only for students, but also for our community. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for the second quarter of 2019, full-time workers ages 25+ with no high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $588, while high school graduates with no college made $751 and those with at least a bachelor’s degree earned $1,357. Boosting the next generation’s earning potential is paramount if we are to address a countywide median household income that has for years lagged behind that of both Florida and the US as a whole. 

Future Bound Miami was made possible by a year-long planning process funded by The Children’s Trust, The United Way of Miami-Dade, Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation, with funding and expertise from Citi, and by the City of Miami’s initial investment in its students. The Health Foundation of South Florida, which is also providing seed incentives, is underwriting the web portal that will allow families to track their progress. Catalyst Miami, in partnership with Sant La Neighborhood Center, spearheaded the original convening of stakeholders, to which Head Start and the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe contributed significantly. The resulting consortium now leading program implementation includes Catalyst Miami, The Children’s Movement of Florida, The Children’s Trust, the City of Miami, Junior Achievement, M-DCPS, The Miami Foundation, Sant La, South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union, and the United Way of Miami-Dade.

A small, early investment in each kindergarten student could make all the difference for the students, and for our entire community. Together, we can ensure a more prosperous future for our city and region.

Please see the Future Bound Miami website for details on this transformative program: futureboundmiami.org.