Los Angeles officials believe that giving every first-grader a $50 savings account will somehow help kids graduate high school and attend college.
“You can concentrate on your studies,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti boasted at a Friday press conference. “Don’t worry about being priced out of an education.”
The Opportunity L.A. program will provide 13,000 public school students with fee-less, deposit-only Citibank savings accounts this Spring, and expand to over 35,000 children in 519 schools by Fall of 2021.
“This is an investment and a vision, to not just say you’re important, but to prove it by putting the resources in the pathway in all of our zip codes for all of our people,” Garcetti remarked. “This is about racial justice. This is about economic opportunity. This is about a stronger economy.”
How a one-time deposit of $50 can prevent both racial injustice and students from being priced out of a solid education is unclear, but all children, regardless of their parent’s income level, or immigration status, will be eligible.
L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, whose reinvestment funding program is putting up $1 million to fund part of the project, insists the program will have an impact.
“A child with a college savings of a dollar to $499 is three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate,” Martinez commented. “However, 40% of families do not have $400 in their savings account to even address an emergency — let alone having a savings account to go to college.”
At the very least, students won’t be able to withdraw the money prior to high school graduation, unless there’s an emergency, and their families can make contributions to the account as desired.
Opportunity L.A., which will cost more than $666,000, plus administration and other fees to start up the first year, is aligned with California governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed $2 billion programs, which will provide 3.7 million qualifying low-income kids with a $500 college savings account.
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