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Columbia Business Monthly

“Columbia Kids $ave” CSA PILOT Program Launched

Sep 11, 2018 03:20PM ● By Kathleen Maris

Photo:  Mayor Pro Tem Tameika Isaac Devine hands out piggy banks and other items to students.

The City of Columbia in partnership with Richland School District One, South State Bank, Security Federal Bank, and First Citizens Bank launched the “Columbia Kids $ave” Children’s Savings Account (CSA) Pilot Program during their kickoff press conference.

The “Columbia Kids $ave” program is a CSA program that provides seed funding and matches incentives to students along with financial education. CSAs are long-term savings accounts that help children and their families build savings for the future. CSAs encourage students to save for college to invest in their future.

The program guideline is a brief document to describe all phases of the CSA program that would include all activities, key roles, staffing, partners, communications, cost, quality measurements, and outcomes.

The concept for the youth savings program was shared with City of Columbia staff by Mayor Pro Tem Tameika Isaac Devine two years ago. Devine shared this concept after learning about similar programs in other states.

“The Children’s Savings Account is the newest addition to all of the things that we’re trying to do to empower our citizens financially,”said Mayor Pro Tem Tameika Isaac Devine. “Within the next few years, our goals and intentions will be to make this initiative a city-wide program.”

“According to the Center for Social Justice Development, a low and moderate income child with a savings account of $500 or more is more than three times likely to attend college than a child with no savings account,” said Jamie L. Devine, Richland County School Board District One Vice Chairman and Commissioner of District II. “We’re thankful for our banking partners for your assistance and how you continuously transform lives here in Richland County School District One.”

South State Bank will house all of the Children’s Savings Accounts and will collect monthly deposits at Watkins-Nance Elementary School. Each partnering bank provided $5,000 each to go towards the “Columbia Kids $ave” CSA PILOT Program.

Representatives from all of the partnering banks were in attendance for the “Columbia Kids $ave” Children’s Savings Account (CSA) PILOT Program press conference.

“Thank you to the City of Columbia and to all of the representing banks for partnering on this great initiative,” said Craig Witherspoon, Richland County School District One superintendent. “As we talk about "how do we grow a community," this program is how it happens; this is how we invest in our young people. To Mayor Steve Benjamin, Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine and the City of Columbia, partnering banks, and Watkins-Nance Elementary, I thank you for the investment, the vision, and the partnership that you all have provided for our youth here at Watkins-Nance Elementary School.”

During the pilot phase of the program, in order to participate in the Columbia CSA program, participants must be enrolled in Richland County School District One Watkins-Nance Elementary School K-5 based on their school records. Watkins-Nance Elementary was chosen because it’s a Title I elementary school located within the city limits of Columbia and it’s also located in one of the City’s Community Development Department’s targeted areas.

The CSA program will be managed and monitored by the City of Columbia Community Development Department’s “bank on” Columbia program coordinator. Each account will be monitored to see if deposits are being made throughout the year and matching deposits will be made periodically. The "bank on" coordinator will also engage local businesses to contribute to the program. Key staff members of Watkins-Nance Elementary School will also encourage students and parents to save, participate in financial education, and explain the benefits of saving and financial education. South State Bank will assist students and parents with starting a banking account to help initiate the Children’s Savings Account PILOT Program.