CUYAHOGA COUNTY--A handful of kindergarteners at Cleveland's Campus International School joined Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald for a charming give and take session to help announce the opening of college savings accounts for more than 10,000 current kindergarteners.
Most of them said they want to go to college.
Parent Lucia Johnson said the program, which puts $100 of tax dollars into savings accounts will help her son Michael begin building a college fund.
KeyBank is managing the accounts and is part of similar efforts in eight other locations around the country.
Its Cleveland Market President Lisa Oliver said, "Through the proper use of the program, we are positioning our children to have brighter futures." She called it an opportunity for the bank to do well by doing good.
KeyBank will offer free money management classes to parents of kindergarten account holders.
This is the first countywide college savings account program in the country.
"Young people today will be competing in a global economy, and we need to do everything we can to provide them with every possible opportunity to succeed," FitzGerald, the program's sponsor, said.
He just made a goal to launch the program by the end of the school year.
Money can only be used for college or trade school . It cannot be withdrawn to pay bills or for other purposes.
The idea is to encourage savings and help lower and middle income families who may not have college savings plans in place. Studies show only 27 percent of low-income families and 40 percent of middle income families now have plans to save for college.
Republican critics complain that about 25 percent of the annual $2 million approved for the program by County Council will go toward covering administrative costs.
Parents of eligible students will soon be getting a packet of information in the mail to explain how the program works.
More information is available at http://collegesavings.cuyahogacounty.us
The program is tentatively set to run for at least five years.