Mayor presents first community-funded donation to kindergarteners at Brooklyn Gardens Elementary in East New York and kicks off an end-of year giving drive for NYC Baby Bonds’ Community Scholarships

Community Scholarships advance City’s work to reduce the racial wealth gap, expanding educational and economic opportunity for all students

Mayor de Blasio celebrated the first Community Scholarship donation since the citywide roll-out of New York City’s universal “Baby Bonds” program and kicked off the end-of-year giving drive for the Community Scholarships, presenting “baby bonds” and the first Community Scholarships to kindergartners at Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School in East New York.  Community Scholarships  — a core component of the program — can help confront the racial generational wealth gap and enable local organizations, businesses, neighbors, and other institutions to contribute to students’ college savings accounts and directly invest in every child’s success.

“This administration began with a vision – improving and expanding the education of our youngest learners,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With Pre-K for All, 3-K for All and Universal Literacy we guaranteed access for all our kids to quality early education and the skills needed to succeed. The expansion of universal Baby Bonds is a historic bookend to this investment, and ensures our children have the resources to thrive. Now, with Community Scholarships, every community can get involved, invest in their children and help build a more equitable future for generations to come.”

A contribution to the “baby bonds” program is an excellent way to say to our children:  You are valued and worthy of investment. With these bonds, a child has the beginning infrastructure to shape a dream,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “These investments help guarantee that struggling families get a measurably significant head start in saving for college or training programs for post high-school careers. The Community Scholarship fund says clearly to our children and their families: we believe in you and we believe in your future.” 

“The City’s “baby bonds” program demonstrates that it is possible to address racial disparities in college access through collective investment and innovative policymaking, said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “The Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity was proud to announce this program expansion via the Juneteenth Economic Justice plan, and I congratulate the kindergarteners and their families at Brooklyn Gardens who are receiving their funds today.”

“This is an historic investment in the future of New York City’s students and will provide every child with the opportunities, resources, and support they need to achieve their dreams. I’m grateful to our partners at NYC Kids Rise and the community’s support for helping us make this a reality for every kindergarten student citywide,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.

“Community Scholarships provide a vehicle for all communities to invest in young people and reinforce expectations for college and career,” said Sideya Sherman, Executive Director, Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, and EVP for Community Engagement & Partnerships, NYCHA. “We are grateful to our partners at NYC Kids Rise and the Gray Foundation for helping us to build a foundation that will shift generational outcomes for families across our city.

Earlier this year, the Mayor announced a citywide expansion of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, as part of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity’s Juneteenth Economic Justice plan. As the Program rolls out this school year, individual donors and community groups are stepping up to drive additional dollars to students. This contribution will double the City’s seed investment of $100 for every kindergarten student at Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School with an NYC Scholarship Account, and kicks off an end-of year giving drive.

In partnership with the Mayor’s Fund, the City is calling on businesses, organizations, institutions, and individuals to contribute to the end-of-year giving drive for Community Scholarships and help make college and career success attainable for all students. 100% of proceeds will go directly into student’s accounts through NYC Kids RISE. Research suggests that children with a college savings account of just $1-$500 are three times more likely to go to college and more than four times more likely to graduate.

Through an initial $15M investment from the Gray Foundation, New York City is the first major city in the nation to implement this groundbreaking model for community wealth building that provides ways for stakeholders within each neighborhood and across the city—including schools, CBOs, local businesses, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations— to contribute to asset-building and promote community-wide expectations for students’ success from their first days of school.

Many communities of color and low-income communities have been excluded from opportunities to build wealth. Through the Save for College program, every public-school kindergartner (including at participating charter schools) now has an opportunity to build assets for college and career training after high school, and all New Yorkers have a vehicle to tangibly support the educational future of children in their community.

“As a parent, I know thinking about the future of our children can be stressful—especially if you might not be able to afford the cost of higher education,” said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Peter A. Hatch. “The expansion of this program from an idea here at DCWP years ago to what is now a citywide program to help all public school students is truly an invaluable investment in the future of our city. By making higher education more equitable and attainable, we empower the next generation to be free from the burden of student loan debt.”

“The Baby Bonds program will be a historic investment in higher education for New York’s children and will ensure a brighter future for all, no matter your zip code,” said Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “We look forward to the continued partnership with the City, NYC Kids RISE, local organizations, businesses, and our neighbors to make higher education a reality for all New York students.” 

“Community Scholarships are a key pillar of the Save For College Program and send an important message to our city’s children: they have a broad-base of supporters invested in their future,” said Dana Zucker, NYC Kids RISE Board Chair and Executive Director of the Gray Foundation. “This initiative from the Mayor’s Fund serves as an example of how New Yorkers from every corner of the city can get involved to expand opportunities for all of our children. We are pleased to partner with the Mayor and the City of New York, Chancellor Porter and the NYC Department of Education, and the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity to continue building meaningful financial assets for the future of children across the city

“The Save for College Program has been designed to allow every part of a child’s community – from schools, to local businesses, to civic organizations and places of worship – to come together to show support for their children and invest in their futures together,” said Debra-Ellen Glickstein, Executive Director of NYC Kids RISE. “Community Scholarships, such as the one announced today from the Mayor’s Fund, are vital to that process. By visibly and tangibly demonstrating citywide support for every child’s future, we send a clear message to our children that we are behind them every step of the way on their college and career journey. We look forward to continuing this public-private-community partnership to help ensure students and families have access to the tools to build wealth, reinforce expectations of success for all our children, and prepare them for their educational and economic futures.”

“The Community Scholarship Fund is an ideal vehicle for people in all walks of life to come together in support of NYC’s children, providing not just financial support, but also the strong message that the city has their back, and believes in possibilities for all of our city’s children,” said Matthew Klein, executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “The universal expansion of Kids Rise has created a true platform for community building and investment in one another.”

“The Baby Bonds program is a wonderful boost to my district and a bona-fide commitment our city has made to the kindergarteners at Brooklyn Gardens Elementary in East New York,” said U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke. “Nothing matters more than assuring our children are equipped with the tools they need to thrive academically, as well as in their communities and family lives. And this opportunity to advance those historically excluded from participating equally in our society and economy is only possible thanks to the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and his administration. When we empower people to reach their potential to overcome the societal hurdles holding them back, we all win. Through this Community Scholarship Fund, 53 young people will get the chance to further their education and transform their lives and communities. This is exemplary leadership coupled by a fundamental commitment to improve the lives of marginalized people who have been left behind. Thank you Mayor de Blasio for your continued dedication toward this necessary cause and the future of New York City, our country, and our children.”

“Unlocking opportunity for our children’s future will take generational efforts and I am proud we were able to get State support for this meaningful program by working with NYC Kids RISE and the Astoria Houses Tenants Association, who led the way in its establishment. I am thrilled the City is expanding it further and look forward to its successful implementation,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.

“Asset building is an essential component of community development and upward economic mobility,” said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, Chair of the NYS Senate Social Services Committee.  “Early investments in these 53 young people attending Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School helps to achieve income security for this next generation of leaders.”

“When we first conceived of the baby bonds program when I served as Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs and the founding chair of NYC Kids Rise, we knew that we could transform a young person’s life by increasing their access to college and by creating a community funded model to directly invest in every child’s future. With today’s announcement we are one step closer to realizing our dream of a universal child savings program that allows communities to directly impact each child’s success” said former Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner and founding board of  Chair NYC Kids Rise Julie Menin

In black and brown communities you often hear of education being the great equalizer; yet, in our black and brown communities financial barriers often prevent our students from earning a college degree,” said Dr. Patricia Ramsey, President of Medgar Evers College. Therefore, I’m pleased to see the Mayor and the City of New York invest in higher education early, through the baby bond initiative. I was so excited to have the opportunity to “high-five” those wonderful kindergartners as they walked across the stage to receive their promise of hope of a higher education that will make a difference in their lives and that of their families. 

“We applaud the mayor for seeding this program that provides a pathway for NYC’s children to generate asset accumulation,” said Dr. Darrick Hamilton, Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, and the founding Director of the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. “We look forward to building on this momentum and working to ensure additional progressive endowments are directed in a way that redresses the inequities in which children are born.”