Thanks to the efforts of Operation HOPE, the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools, every kindergartener at an Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Title I school has been given a savings account.
In addition to a one-time $50 deposit, students and their families can earn money towards their savings account by participating in financial literacy workshops.
The Child Savings Account program, created through Operation HOPE, came together because financial literacy programs were made a priority by former mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, when she appointed Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim to serve as chief equity officer for the city.
“Qaadirah shared with me that Mayor Bottoms had this vision for a savings account program for kindergarteners in low income schools. And the vision was to create opportunities for financial literacy and post secondary educational opportunities so they can begin building a solid financial future,” said Dr. Tauheedah Baker-Jones.
Baker-Jones was appointed by APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring to head the district’s new Center for Equity and Social Justice.
The Mayor’s Office and Operation HOPE also worked with Atlanta Public Schools to make sure the program was accessible to the kids who needed it most.
Baker-Jones said that it was important for the school district to be a part of this project because of the district’s high poverty rate.
“75 percent of students in Atlanta Public Schools live in poverty, compared to 35 percent in the City of Atlanta,” said Baker-Jones.
The savings funds cannot be withdrawn until the student graduates from an APS high school, and have been designated specifically to be spent on education expenses like books and tuition.
Baker-Jones added that the savings account program was created not only to increase financial literacy, but also to promote upward mobility among low-income students.
“Research [at] Stanford University found that a child born in poverty in the city of Atlanta has only a 4.5 percent chance of upward mobility,” Baker-Jones told The Atlanta Voice. “That right there is a call to action.”
This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.