Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs)

Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs)

According to research from the Campaign for Every Kid’s Future, a collaboration between policymakers, practitioners, researchers, funders, financial institutions, and child advocates that supports expanding children’s savings accounts, children who have any college savings — even $1 to $499 — are three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate[1].

Initiatives and Organizations

Here are three examples of how national, state, and local policymakers are working with donors to implement children’s savings accounts:

Baby Bonds, a potential government policy proposed in the American Opportunity Accounts Act, has been gaining traction among donors and policy makers. In the program, every child at birth would receive a publicly funded trust account, with more generous funding for lower-income families to address the racial wealth gap[2] and support better educational outcomes.

The Bright Futures Initiative contributes $100 per year to children’s savings accounts for each completed year of a child’s participation, for up to a total of five years. The initiative was launched in 2021 by Book Harvest, a nonprofit based in North Carolina focuses on large-scale kindergarten readiness in low-income families and families of color.  Book Harvest created and funded the accounts as part of their Book Babies early reading program, with the savings to be used for the child’s education or career needs when they turn 18.  Parents and guardians can also contribute additional amounts.

The Kindergarten to College initiative was launched in 2011 in San Francisco to help families start saving earlier and to save more by automatically creating a college savings account by the City of San Francisco[3]. Philanthropic and corporate foundations, community organizations, local businesses, and individuals provided funds for additional deposits and matching incentives to encourage family savings and boost account balances. This past year, the Governor of California proposed a statewide college savings program based on this effort. Both examples illustrate the role of philanthropy to seed innovative strategies that can become policy.