Findley Students Receive College Savings Accounts
First thing Wednesday morning everyone gathered in the gym/cafeteria at Findley Elementary, like always; Voice Level Zero. Principal Barb Adams reported there were no office referrals yesterday and attendance was at 97%. There were cheers for those twin bits of good news; Voice Level Yay. And the daily grade level chants were chanted that feature year of expected college graduation (5th grade = 2026, 4th grade = 2027, etc.); Voice Level Loud.
But it wasn’t all business as usual. There was also the formal announcement that EVERY Findley student will have an official College Savings Account (CSA) established in their name and opportunities throughout the year to earn money to deposit there, courtesy of the I Have a Dream Foundation; Voice Level Off the Charts!
Make that every scholar, not student. At Findley they call them scholars.
The Dreamer Academy at Findley is directed by Heather Isaacson. Her personal motto is, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” And the evidence to that effect is mounting.
“It’s not the amount of money in these accounts that matters so much,” Isaacson said. “It’s what they represent.”
She cited research showing that establishment of CSA’s in the name of kids who would be first-generation college-goers in their families triples the chance that they will ever attend and increases their odds of actually graduating fourfold, even if the amount in the account is less than $500.
The I Have a Dream Foundation is a national nonprofit dedicated to the motivation and empowerment of children from low-income communities to reach their education and career goals by providing long-term mentoring, tutoring and enrichment.
Isaacson works for IHDF but is on staff and headquartered this year at Findley. And Wednesday morning she was flanked by lots of colleagues and the big brass from New York City who are in town for the launch and to help get all the accounts officially registered. Once they are the kids will be able to earn deposits by achieving preset goals. Completion of the October/November book log, for instance, stashes $30 in the scholar’s piggybank. Learning your college graduation year (one that sounds pretty much unanimously mastered from the get-go) brings a $10 tip.
After all the big-shots finished their speeches a good thing happened. They turned the ceremonies over to the beneficiaries. Music teacher Jane Olson waved her hand and a chorus line stood at the front of the room to perform a catchy tune called “Knowledge is Power.” 5th grader, er, member of the Class of ’26, Ricquez Martin was so with the flow that it took a second to focus on the message emblazoned on his brightly colored t-shirt: Read to Succeed.
And then it was time for the dignitaries to clear out so the young scholars could get back to work. By the end of the year each of them will have earned as much as $200 toward the cost of their personal dreams. It’s a bold notion to be sure, but mighty forces, like compound interest, will surely come to their aid.
Findley Elementary’s got a lot going for it, alright. But mostly it’s got an atmosphere about it. Like earth’s got oxygen, Findley’s got expectation.