By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer

Children and families in D.C. may get an opportunity to better prepare for the future with a new program that hopes to help Ward 8 families build savings accounts.

EduSaveDC, launched by Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB) and 11th Street Bridge Park, with additional help from Capital One, is a children’s savings account pilot program aimed at residents in Ward 8. Residents gathered at TheARC BlackBox at 1801 Mississippi Avenue SE to get information and sign up for bank accounts on the spot.

Families listen at the EduSaveDC launch at TheARC BlackBox in Southeast, D.C. (Photo by George Kevin Jordan)

“We are committed to helping people at all stages of their lives take better control of their personal finances and see particular importance in helping young people save for post-secondary education. With the right skills, knowledge, and drive everyone can gain an edge on their future and have a lifetime of success,” said Naomi Smouha, Community Affairs at Capital One. “We are thrilled to partner on EduSaveDC as part of Capital One’s Future Edge initiative, which provides $150 million in community grants and initiatives across the country to empower more Americans to succeed in and the future economy.”

Participating families will get a chance to build a savings account with a 5 to 1 matching incentive of up to $1800 to be used for post-secondary education. Families will also have access to financial capability classes and financial coaching, all in an effort to help families reduce debt and save. Participants will have about 18 months to save up to $300 dollars. The funds will be matched up to five times the amount and used to create a college savings account/529 account for participants children.

”We believe it is just as important to invest in the residents who live around the future park as we do the bricks and mortar of this new park” said Scott Kratz, Director at the 11th Street Bridge Park. “As a project of the Ward 8 based non-profit Building Bridges Across the River, our mission is to improve the quality of life of residents in Ward 7 & 8. The CSAs are a key strategy of our Equitable Development Plan that allows local residents to stay and thrive in place.” 

Officials from CAAB agree.

“CAAB is very excited to partner with 11th Street Bridge Park and Capital One on this creative and ambitious two-generation wealth creation pilot program,” said Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz, CAAB’s acting executive director. “We applaud the significant commitment and investment Capital One is making in this pilot program. CAAB is proud that EduSaveDC will create new opportunities to put families in Ward 8 on a pathway to achieve post-secondary educational goals.”  

CAAB is a D.C. based nonprofit that provides opportunities to build wealth and security for low to middle income residents. The 11th Street Bridge Park is a Ward 8 non profit project that is building an elevated public ward in in the area.

LaShawn Lipscombe, a D.C. resident with one child who recently graduated from college and another just entering, hopes to add additional savings for her third child, her 12-year-old daughter who attends Washington School for Girls.

“She’ll be the last one so I need go get my money together,” Lipscombe said jokingly. Adding in seriousness that pooling funds from any area helps. “Every little bit helps. Even if it’s just for books for as simple as getting to school.”

According to a 2017 survey by Gobankingrates.com, about 48% of DC residents have $0 saved. About 64% had less than $1000 saved. According to data in a 2017 report from the Pew Research Americans have more than 1.3 trillion in student loan debt.

Sallie Mae presented a How America Pays for College report in 2018 and it showed that students contribute about 13% of the total costs of college education while parents on average paid for 34% those costs out of pocket. About 53% of families will also borrow to pay for college education according to the study. 

For the pilot program only participating families from Ketcham Elementary, Bishop Walker School for Boys, Hart Middle School and Washington School for Girls are eligible. Enrollment is open until the end of March on a first come first serve basis. For more information email [email protected] or [email protected]