Research has shown that a child who has savings for college or career training is 3 times more likely to attend college/vocational training and 4 times more likely to graduate than those who do not.
Blackford County chose to help students get started with that education plan by initiating the Blackford County Promise program in 2016. At that time, all kindergarten through third-grade students were invited to open a CollegeChoice 529 savings account. The Foundation then contributed $25 to each new account. When the child’s family or “champion” added another $25, the Foundation provided an additional $50 match. (A champion is any family, friend, neighbor or community member who contributes money and/or encouragement to a child.) 62% of Blackford County students participated last year.
This fall our new kindergarteners have also enrolled. They have been filling their pink pig banks and returning the change they have collected from their own champions in order to deposit their initial $25 contribution and thus receive their $50 match.
The older students now in their second year of depositing savings in their 529 accounts, i.e., this year’s first through fourth graders, are bringing their additional $25 to school before October 31 so their names can be entered into a drawing for an additional $100 donated by the Foundation to be deposited to their CollegeChoice 529 account.
The Blackford County Promise program does not stop with just financial planning and support. In partnership with Blackford County Schools, the Promise program initiates activities that focus on college and career goal setting activities throughout October. One such activity was a field trip to a college campus as part of the comprehensive program to encourage planning for career education. Kindergarteners visited Taylor University on September 26 for a day of inspiration and dreaming. Four lucky students also each won an additional $529 deposited to their Promise account as part of a Promise drawing. Photos of the event are posted at www.facebook.com/blackfordcountypromise.
The emphasis on activities all through the month of October is the Promise’s way of reminding us that we need to continue adding to students’ 529 accounts so that that educational training money can grow over the next decade.
The Foundation is part of the local community group that chose to encourage and financially support all young people in the county to dream and then plan for further education and training beyond high school. The group founded the Blackford County Promise program in 2016.
Substantial donations from local businesses, organizations, and individuals allow Blackford County Promise to provide donations to students’ 529 accounts and to support the career planning activities.
Blackford County Schools, Blackford Economic Development Corporation, Citizens State Bank and the YMCA partner with the Foundation to support Blackford County Promise. Find additional information at www.blackfordcountypromise.org.