We've been fairly heavily promoting the recent announcement of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Education, the FDIC, and the National Credit Union Administration to promote savings and financial literacy for low-income students, in the context of increasing college access and success. But folks in the asset building arena interested in such efforts may be wondering, in no particular order: Who, What, When, Where, and How? (For the “Why” I recommend Secretary Arne Duncan’s video here).
Luckily, the Department of Education has baked this into the application process for this year’s federal GEAR UP grants. GEAR UP provides six- and seven-year grants to both states and community-based organizations to prepare low-income students for higher education. This year in particular, they are promoting the link between asset building, financial literacy and college readiness – which strikes us as a perfect opportunity for the asset building field to create and expand upon efforts to launch child savings accounts and other financial empowerment endeavors, particularly at a time when money for such efforts, however cost effective, is often difficult to come by.
Over the next few weeks, New America -- along with CFED and others -- will be helping promote and link the asset building field with these opportunities, including a webinar in May (details forthcoming) to discuss the rationale behind these efforts, potential partnerships between current grantees, potential grantees, schools, state agencies and financial partners, as well as examples of what we see as promising policies and practices – such as San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College Initiative and the “Partnership for College Completion” from the United Negro College Fund and KIPP Schools. Participants will have a chance to hear from New America, CFED, the Department of Education and others as well as ask questions on the reasons and logistics of such efforts.
In the meantime, we urge those interested to look at the materials on the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships website, including detailed information on GEAR UP grants and pre-application workshops for those who may want to be a part of the process.