Pilot savings program shows potential of universal, statewide children’s savings plan

Written by Tom Feltner on April 20, 2010 - 12:00am

Woodstock Institute president Dory Rand addressed Chicago media to discuss the savings potential of young people when they have access to children’s savings accounts and to announce the creation of a new statewide task force to investigate the issue.

The task force is charged with developing recommendations for a universal, statewide children’s savings plan which could help ensure that all Illinois children have the opportunity to build assets. Opened at birth and linked to financial education, the accounts would offer youth and their families the tools and incentives to accumulate savings.  The proceeds could be used for long-term goals such as college or post-secondary training, buying a home, starting a business, or retirement.

From 2003 to 2007, Rand was the coordinator of the Chicago site of the national SEED child account demonstration program. As part of that program, about 75 elementary school children and their parents from mostly low-income families learned about saving money for long-term goals like getting a college education and having good careers. With incentives such as an initial deposit and matches on their family contributions, the Chicago SEED children were able to save over $120,000 over four years.

The research from the SEED program and other child account programs around the country and around the world shows that these programs are successful in increasing savings and promoting economic mobility. Through the SEED Initiative, 1,220 children and youth across the nation saved more than $1.6 million in three years. In addition, child account programs raise children’s aspirations and parents’ and teachers’expectations.

Rand was joined by representatives from the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, the University of Illinois School of Social Work, the Ford Foundation, and members of the Children’s Savings Account Task Force.

Click below to see photos from the conference.

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