Through the efforts of Operation HOPE, the City of Atlanta, and Atlanta Public Schools, every kindergarten student at an Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Title I school has received a savings account.
In addition to a one-time $50 deposit, students and their families can earn money for their savings account by attending financial literacy workshops.
The children’s savings account program, created under Operation HOPE, came about because financial education programs were a priority of former mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, when she appointed Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim as the city’s chief equity officer.
“Qaadirah told me that Mayor Bottoms had this vision for a savings account program for kindergartners in low-income schools. And the vision was to create opportunities for financial literacy and opportunities post-secondary education so they can start building a strong financial future,” said Dr. Tauheedah Baker-Jones.
Baker-Jones was appointed by APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring to lead the district’s new Center for Equity and Social Justice.
The Mayor’s Office and Operation HOPE also worked with Atlanta Public Schools to ensure the program was accessible to children who needed it most.
Baker-Jones said it was important for the school district to be part of this project because of the district’s high poverty rate.
“75% of Atlanta public school students live in poverty, compared to 35% in the city of Atlanta,” Baker-Jones said.
Savings funds cannot be withdrawn until the student graduates from an APS high school and has been specifically designated to be spent on educational expenses like books and tuition.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 for low-income students.
“To research [at] Stanford University found that a child born into poverty in the city of Atlanta has only a 4.5% chance of upward mobility,” Baker-Jones told The Atlanta Voice.. “It’s just that there’s a call to action.”