June 06, 2018LAPEER COUNTY — The Lapeer County Community Foundation wants to ensure that all kindergarten students get off on the right financial footing.
And what better way to accomplish that goal, asks LCCF Executive Director Nancy Boxey, than to provide each child with his/her own bank account.
This week, Boxey discussed the LCCF Board's intent to create and fund a Child Savings Account (CSA) program for all Lapeer County children upon entering kindergarten.
She said the program will be "universal" and "automatic" for all children entering kindergarten who reside within a Lapeer County school district service area.
"The LCCF has committed to seeding all kindergarten student accounts with a minimum of $25 during the three-year commitment."
She noted that beginning in the spring of 2019, the CSA program will become available to approximately 1,000 children enrolled in public and parochial schools or who are homeschooled.
"It is anticipated that in three years more than 3,000 students will have individual savings accounts established in their names to help in financing their post-secondary education," said Boxey.
She added that the ultimate goal after three years is to establish a continuing endowment program.
"It is our goal to have the program fully endowed to provide for continued sustainability for future generations," she said.
Almont's Orchard Primary School kindergarteners listen as teacher Lisa Landerschier reads story. photo by Tom Wearing.
Boxey noted that seed money for the CSA endowment program would come from a portion of a $150,000 gift bequeathed to the foundation from the late Sandra DuPont.
A former teacher, medical technologist and community volunteer, DuPont passed away in December.
"After speaking with her husband, Kent, we are making certain Sandra's legacy will be honored by designating $100,000 of those funds to establish an endowed fund for the Lapeer County CSA (child savings account) program.
"These funds will provide hope and opportunities for our youngest students to dream of and pursue post-graduate educational opportunities."
Boxey added that the remaining $50,000 from DuPont's bequest will be designated to the Lapeer County Medical Fund in support of scholarships to students pursuing careers in the medical field.
Boxey explained that the CSA's can be added to through private family contributions and continuing philanthropic growth and will become available to students in the form of scholarships upon graduation from high school.
"The money can be used for any kind of continued learning," said Boxey. "Whether it be for college, a trade school, cosmetology school or whatever field the student wishes to pursue."
Key post to be filled
For the program to succeed and sustain itself over the long term, Boxey said the Foundation will need to hire an AmeriCorp VISTA CSA Program Coordinator to represent Lapeer County.
The Program Coordinator would be required to dedicate a minimum of one year to the program, working Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The individual would be provided an annual gross income allowance of $12,277, along with either an Education Award of $5,920, or an "End of Service" stipend of $1,800. They may also qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and travel and relocation allowances.
Boxey said the CSA Program Coordinator would work to develop and launch the CSA program in Lapeer County, whose ultimate goal is to "help reduce poverty and create a college-bound identity countywide."
The deadline to apply for the position is Monday, June 18 at 5 p.m.
Interested candidates should submit resumes and cover letters to Lapeer County Community Foundation, ATTN: Nancy Boxey, 235 W. Nepessing St., Lapeer, MI 48446. Or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
County falls short
Boxey believes that giving the county's youngest children a proverbial "leg up" is critical if Lapeer County children are not to fall behind those in other Michigan counties.
"Lapeer County has struggled to develop a college-bound culture," Boxey said. "More than 72% of county residents over the age of 25 do not hold a degree or certificate.
"County residents are not served by any in-residence community college or university," Boxey noted. "Nor are there any certificate granting trade or technical schools located in the county."
Boxey pointed out other statistics that are negatively impacting student success in Lapeer County.
They include Lapeer County's medium household income of $35,870, compared to the Michigan average of $49,087 and National average of $51,084; and the high rate of families eligible for free and reduced lunches. Overall, 61% of Lapeer County students qualify for free and reduced lunches. College enrollment for economically disadvantaged students within six months after graduation fell 11% in 2016-2017, from 55.2%
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.