U-M team to evaluate success of Children’s Savings Account program grants

Source: Community Economic Development Association of Michigan

Trina Shanks, social work professor at the University of Michigan, director of the Center for Equitable Family and Community Well-Being, faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research, and director of community engagement at the School of Social Work.

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Trina Shanks

The Community Economic Development Association of Michigan announced the recipients of its 2023 Children’s Savings Account innovative project grants. In partnership with the Michigan Poverty Task Force, CEDAM has awarded four Michigan CSA programs up to $50,000 each to implement projects that will enhance program impact and advance the state’s CSA field.

“Children’s Savings Accounts support financial literacy and create pathways for Michigan families to invest in their children’s financial future,” said Kim Trent, key staffer to the Poverty Task Force and deputy director of prosperity for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “The Poverty Task Force applauds this effort to expand access to CSA programming and empower kids and families.”

CSA programs are community-led initiatives that enroll students in basic savings accounts to provide financial support for their endeavors after high school, including college or career training expenses. The Michigan Children’s Savings Account Network, a coalition led by CEDAM, convenes 17 local CSA programs, with more than 40,000 students participating statewide.

To evaluate the impact of these projects and document lessons learned along the way,  CEDAM has partnered with Trina Shanks, University of Michigan social work professor, and her team at the Center for Equitable Family and Community Well-Being. The team will gather and analyze data from network member programs (including all four of the grant recipients) to improve understanding of the impact of student participation in these savings accounts.

The four recipients include:

KickStart to Career Muskegon County (Community Foundation for Muskegon County): Launch new teacher champion and student ambassador programs to engage with students through educators and high school peers. Each student will receive a $5 deposit into their KickStart account.

Kickstart to Career Newaygo County (Fremont Area Community Foundation): Plans to purchase and install two deposit kiosk machines in two participating schools. Students will be able to use the machines to make safe deposits into their own accounts when the school is open. The program expects that kiosk machines in the schools will expand access for rural populations and remove barriers to Spanish-speaking students.

Lansing SAVE (City of Lansing – Office of Financial Empowerment): Plans a five-year capital campaign to raise $5 million over the next four years. This grant will support a partnership with a professional fundraising firm, marketing and outreach for the campaign, and more.

LEAF – Lapeer County Education Attainment Fund (Lapeer County Community Foundation): Plans to carry out three initiatives that focus on increasing local CSA awareness: 1) a bank bound initiative, connecting students to financial institutions with a field trip, 2) a children’s story describing the importance of saving, and 3) LEAF LIVE!, a live event in collaboration with community partners to support students and their families.

“It’s inspiring to see CSA programs think out-of-the-box with exciting ways to engage students, families, and their communities,” said Brian Rakovitis, director of Economic Inclusion at CEDAM. “We designed the CSA Innovative Project Grants to not only encourage programs to think big, but to increase their capacity and resources so they can actually make these big ideas happen.”

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