AUBURN — DeKalb County Promise is expanding its focus, now offering financial incentives for families enrolling children in 529 career savings accounts through grade 12, beginning this fall.
Once a family enrolls a child, age 4 through grade 12, in a 529 career savings account, the community will make the first deposit of $25. When children raise $25 to match that initial deposit, through family members or others who believe in them, the community will deposit an additional $75 into their 529 career savings accounts.
“We will be partnering with all DeKalb County schools for on-site enrollment at a variety of back-to-school events that have been identified by each of the schools,” said Melanie Beer, DeKalb County Promise coordinator at the Community Foundation of DeKalb County,
Parents or guardians also may e-mail Promise@CFDeKalb.org to find out when Promise representatives will be present at their children’s schools and to receive the bi-monthly DeKalb County Promise newsletter to keep them informed.
“Most Indiana counties focus on grades K-3, but DeKalb County has been working on this much bigger vision. We found that the community, our donors, and our schools were behind supporting all students. We always intended to demonstrate that we believe in every student once we were up and running, and we are ready to expand through grade 12. Think of it like a small scholarship, but for every student in the county who enrolls,” said Matt Bechdol, board president of the community foundation, the convening organization.
The dollars come from a student account fund for new Promise students, held by the community foundation as the convener for DeKalb County Promise. Participating children then will have minimum balances of $125 in their 529 career savings accounts to add to and grow over time. Any gains on these accounts are tax-free to families, and Indiana offers a 20% tax credit for families’ deposits.
The University of Kansas cited three measures of success associated with students who have career savings accounts:
• They are 60% more likely to graduate from high school.
• Low- and moderate-income youth with an account balance of just $1-499 are three times more likely to attend some post-high school training, and four times more likely to graduate.
• Among students receiving free or reduced-price school lunches, simply having a Promise Indiana 529 account was related to higher reading and math scores.
Starting at an early age, DeKalb County Promise leaders want to build hope for future careers for every DeKalb County student, and not just for college, the organization said. There are careers across manufacturing, life sciences, agriculture and more key industries in northeast Indiana that do not require a four-year degree, but do require post-high school learning or career training, according to the foundation.
On Sept. 20, kindergarten through third-grade students countywide again will experience a “Walk into My Future,” a field trip to Ivy Tech Fort Wayne. The event is a component of the Promise initiative that gives young elementary students a hands-on introduction to several career fields, at age-appropriate levels, in a post-high-school learning environment.