Kindergarten to College is the first publicly funded, universal children’s college savings account program in the United States. It was created by the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment in 2010.

The program’s goal is simple, yet ambitious: to make sure every child in San Francisco can save for post-secondary education. This isn’t merely a “nice thing to do;” good intentions wouldn’t justify a program this ambitious. Rather, Kindergarten to College is a powerful, ongoing investment in a stronger, healthier city. College-educated people are a critical part of a city’s success. They’re more likely to have jobs, open businesses, and contribute to the tax base. Also, the accounts will serve as a financial education tool throughout each child’s school years, helping foster a more money-smart population.

Under the program, every child entering kindergarten in the City’s public schools is automatically given a College Savings Account (CSA) containing a $50 deposit from the City and County of San Francisco. Children enrolled in the National Student Lunch Program will receive an additional $50 deposit.

Once a child has an account, the program offers incentives for children, parents, friends, and extended family to save earlier and to save more. Foundations, community organizations, local businesses and individuals are providing generous additional deposits and matching incentives.

A second benefit of the program is financial education. Schools are integrating financial subjects into the K-12 math curriculum, with each child’s K2C account serving as a teaching tool. This will make San Francisco the first city in the nation to integrate financial education linked to a real-life account.

A third benefit: banking unbanked families. In lower-income and immigrant communities, too many families live without a relationship with a financial institution. This account automatically makes those families clients of a major bank, making it easier for them to open other accounts as well.

Kindergarten to College is an initiative of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, the Office of the Treasurer, the Department of Children, Youth, & Their Families and the San Francisco Unified School District, with support from CFED, EARN, the New America Foundation and San Francisco Foundation. Accounts are held at Citibank.

Kindergarten to College is available in every San Francisco public elementary school as of the 2012-2013 school year.

SUCCESSES

SAVINGS ACCOUNTS OPENED. In 2012, every incoming San Francisco public kindergarten student (a total of over 4,500 students) received a college savings account with a $50 deposit, and the opportunity to receive bonus incentives. Now, more than 13,000 accounts have been opened since the program has begun in 2010.

EARLY FINANCIAL EDUCATION. In connection with the K2C program, elementary math teachers incorporated financial subjects into the kindergarten curriculum.

FURTHER READING:

K2C EARN Report for Practitioners Mar 2013 (PDF)
K2C New America Case Study Sept 2011 (PDF)
Program Overview (PDF)
“Save Steady” Parent Onesheet (PDF)

K2C IN THE NEWS:

SF Chronicle, June 2013
Duncan lauds S.F.’s Kindergarten to College

KALW, May 2013
Kindergarteners get a jump on college savings

NPR, December 2012
In One School, Planning For College Starts With $100

Mercury News, November 2012
Fund hopes to attract givers for college savings

US News, August 2012
Investing in Children Early Increases Access to Education

WEBSITES:
www.k2csf.org
mysavingsaccount.com/k2c

CONTACT:
Leigh Phillips, Director of the Office of Financial Empowerment
leigh.phillips@sfgov.org