The City and County of San Francisco and Citi Community Development today received the 2013 Excellence Award for Public-Private Partnerships at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 81st Winter Meeting in Washington, DC. The award, which honors the outstanding achievements made possible through the combined effort of cities and members of the Mayors Business Council, recognizes the cross-sector collaboration on Kindergarten to College, the nation’s first universal college savings program for children. First launched in 2010, Kindergarten to College automatically establishes savings accounts in Citibank branches for children entering kindergarten in all 75 of the San Francisco Unified School District’s elementary schools. All accounts are seeded with an initial $50 deposit by the City of San Francisco, and children receiving free and reduced price lunches receive an additional $50. “I thank Citi Community Development, San Francisco Unified School District, Mayor Lee, and all our partners who have worked to make K2C a success,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “Research tells us that a child with a college savings account in their name is several times more likely to go to college, and we are cultivating expectations for academic success for our students.” Kindergarten to College is designed to embed a savings culture among San Francisco’s children and their parents as a way to expand college access and increase college completion rates while decreasing debt. Since its inception, nearly 8,000 accounts have been opened, with the City of San Francisco matching additional contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $100 in the first year. Thereafter, families may make yearly contributions of up to $2,500. To facilitate the program, Citibank created a platform through which accounts are opened and managed electronically. “Kindergarten to College is an integrated approach to building assets and making higher education attainable through a universal student savings account program,” said Bob Annibale, Citi’s Global Director of Microfinance and Community Development. “Citi is proud that other cities are recognizing our work with the City and County of San Francisco as a national model for expanding financial inclusion and access to higher education, both of which are key drivers for economic opportunity.”
Children with savings accounts are seven times more likely to attend college, according to research. Even modest savings have been shown to not only provide children with a foundation to begin paying for their educations, but childhood exposure to basic money management helps to build the financial skills they will need throughout their lives. Over the course of a lifetime, individuals with college degrees earn up to 75 percent more than those with just high school diplomas – nearly $1 million more in total.Kindergarten to College began as a two-year pilot launched by the Office of the Mayor and the Office of the Treasurer in San Francisco along with the Department of Children, Youth and their Families, the San Francisco Unified School District and a number of non-profit organizations, including CFED, EARN, the San Francisco Foundation and the New America Foundation. In 2012, Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the Board of Supervisors approved funding to expand the pilot into a permanent universal savings program. About Citi Community Development Citi Community Development is leading Citi’s commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit www.citicommunitydevelopment.com.