New program gives Barry Co. kindergartners their own savings accounts

New program gives Barry Co. kindergartners their own savings accounts

HASTINGS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new program in Barry County is giving kindergartners savings accounts.

It's designed to give families a financial head-start for their child's post-secondary education.

Newschannel 3 spoke to teachers and bankers to see how these child savings accounts work.

Right now, every single kindergartner in Barry County has a savings account at Hastings City Bank, with $50 in it.

They can add as much money to it as they want, but the point is to have a sort of nest egg for students to use after they graduate high school.

Every penny that kindergartners at Hastings' Southeast Elementary find on the ground, earn as allowance, or get for birthdays can now fund their college education.

"They're learning that even just one little penny adds up," a teacher said.

"Kickstart to Career," a program launched by the Barry Community Foundation, gives every single kindergartner in Barry County--700 kids in total--a savings account with 50 dollars in it.

They also get a piggy bank, to collect more money throughout the school year.

"It's teaching them about lifelong saving skills. It's teaching them to wait for gratification, and it's also teaching them some very important mathematical lessons," said Barry Community Foundation President Bonnie Gettys.

The Assistant Vice President of Hastings City Bank, Nancy Goodin, is thrilled to help manage those accounts.

"We'll begin to develop a relationship with them that will follow them throughout their formative years," she said. "We'll use the opportunity to encourage discussion about what they've planned for their future."

The savings accounts are deposit only, until students graduate high school. Then the money can be used for vocational or technical schools and college.

Just knowing even a small amount of money is there makes continuing education seem possible.

"They'll learn that not only do they have a vision for their future success, but everyone in this community supports that," Goodin said.

Besides the $50 to start the account, community and private donors have volunteered to contribute a match.

This program guarantees that every kindergartner who enrolls in Barry County in the future will also get an account.

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