How Children’s Savings Accounts Will Reshape Oregon’s Future

Oregon leaders have come together to bring Children Savings Accounts to Oregon. We know that even a small amount of money in an account in a child’s name has transformative potential. Children’s savings accounts have been proven to increase high school graduation rates, college enrollment, and college completion rates. And that’s just the beginning, and explains why we want to bring the power of CSAs to ALL Oregon communities. (See our research brief if you want the details.) The long-term value of investing in our children will be felt for generations to come in Oregon. Building our kids futures is building our future.

Children’s Savings Accounts come in many forms. Our vision for Oregon is to create a universal account platform that will automatically open an account for every child at a pre-determined benchmark, like birth or kindergarten enrollment, seeded with a minimal state contribution (opt outs will be allowed, of course). Local communities, philanthropic partners, or public agencies  may then use the account platform and layer on their efforts to strengthen educational or financial success among for children in specific groups, areas, or communities with targeted outreach, financial incentives, or other approaches.

Here’s what is in store for Oregon’s CSA campaign in the coming months.

Step 1: Bring Together a Great Steering Committee

The CSA Steering Committee includes: CASA , College Dreams , Early Learning Alliance , Hacienda CDC, Innovative Changes , Neighborhood Partnerships , NeighborImpact , NeighborWorks Umpqua , PCRI  SEI and the United Way of Lane County.

The Steering Committee includes representation from organizations deeply connected to communities across the state and communities of color. Organizations that provide a direct service to clients were on the top of the recruitment list. Three parents whose kids would benefit from  CSAs also sit on the committee.

Step 2: Address the Big Questions

The Steering Committee will design an ideal CSA. They will hash out questions like:

  • Should enrollment begin at birth or Kindergarten?
  • How should we enroll kids? Through schools, hospitals or another system? Who will manage the accounts? The State Treasurer? Another agency?
  • When and how will families receive a savings match for participation?
  • How will we tie in financial education to CSAs?
  • What do we want from the account structure? How will families access accounts to make their deposits?
  • How will accounts be managed?  Should we use a college savings (529) account, a master trust account,  or  an alternative?

Step 3: Generate Excitement in the Oregon Legislature

On February 24th, a group of CSA Steering Committee Leaders will have the opportunity to present background research and initial concepts to the House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development of the Oregon State Legislature.

This presentation will allow legislative committee members to learn about the impact of CSAs, ask questions, get as excited as we are, and start thinking about possible legislation in the 2017 session.

We look forward to reporting out what legislators had to say.

Step 4: Hone in on the Best Options

We have formed a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to hone in on the best CSA platform designs. The TAC includes policy minds, OR 529 staff, our financial sector, and our national partners CFED. They will meet in mid-February to review and provide feedback on the CSA Steering Committee’s initial design.

Feedback from Oregon families who will be potentially using CSAs is also extremely important.  We are scheduling a series of focus groups so we can learn from both parents and youth.

This design process will take place between February and April.

Step 5: Let’s Start a Grassroots Movement

We’re a year away from a momentous 2017 legislative session. Oregon can raise a generation of children who expect to pursue an education and from that foundation build a meaningful life for themselves, their families and their communities. But we can’t do it alone.

While the technical details are being worked out, we need Oregonians who believe in investing in kids. We will start by collecting email addresses (Sign up here!) and then launch a more public campaign in the Spring. Stay tuned to learn more and share details about CSAs with friends.

We hope you’re as excited as we are and we can’t wait to share more details in the coming months!