Published On: Mon, Sep 30th, 2013

Kituwah Savings Program kicks off

By SHAWN SPRUCE

SEQUOYAH FUND

 

Research suggests that children with bank accounts perform better in math, are more likely to go to college, and demonstrate better financial habits in life than children without bank accountsStudents at New Kituwah Academy are putting this idea into action.

James Maney (right) opens a matched savings account for his son, Champ, during the Kituwah Savings Program kick-off on Thursday, Sept. 26.  They are assisted by First Citizens Bank employees Dinah Smith (left) and Michelle Cochran (2nd from left). (Photo courtesy of Shawn Spruce)

James Maney (right) opens a matched savings account for his son, Champ, during the Kituwah Savings Program kick-off on Thursday, Sept. 26. They are assisted by First Citizens Bank employees Dinah Smith (left) and Michelle Cochran (2nd from left). (Photo courtesy of Shawn Spruce)

On Sept. 26-27, staff from First Citizens Bank and Sequoyah Fund visited the school to kick off the Kituwah Children’s Saving Program, a pilot initiative aimed at teaching young people the importance of saving money.  The project is a joint effort by Sequoyah Fund, First Citizens Bank, and New Kituwah Academy and is made possible by a grant from the Eastern Band Fund for Financial Literacy and Children’s Health, an affiliate fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation.

“First Citizens Bank is thrilled to work with families at New Kituwah Academy” explained Michelle Cochran, Financial Service Representative at the bank’s Cherokee Main Branch.  “This is an extremely innovative program that will enable young people to begin taking responsibility for their financial futures while having fun at the same time.”

Sequoyah Fund will manage the Kituwah Children’s Savings Program by using a matched savings strategy in which parents open Uniform Transfers to Minors Act savings accounts at First Citizens.  A UTMA is a special account for savers under the age of 18 in which a parent or guardian serves as a custodian.   Sequoyah Fund then deposits $25 into each account as seed money, and students and families follow up with bi-weekly deposits of at least $5 throughout the school year.  Prizes and incentives will be offered along the way to encourage students to keep saving in addition to special activities such as a bank field trip and other fun learning experiences.  At the conclusion of the program students who reach their saving goals will enjoy an additional $25 bonus deposit from Sequoyah Fund.

Students and their families appear overwhelmingly supportive of the program and opened a total of twenty-six savings accounts (more than sixty percent of the school’s K through 4 student body) during the two day kick-off.

“The timing is perfect” stated Tim Swayney, one of the first parents to open an account.  “I’ve been planning to start a savings account for my daughter, Marilyn, so she can set aside money she earns from dancing at pow wows and other cultural events.  Sequoyah Fund is basically providing free money to motivate children to save.  That’s wonderful.”

Another parent, Sarah McClellan-Welch, expects the program to build on financial lessons her daughter, Eva, has begun learning at home.

“This is an incredible opportunity to teach children about the banking system,” McClellan-Welch commented.  “My husband and I give our children allowances and require them to save for things they want.  However, this will be my daughter’s first bank account and she’s very excited.”

The Kituwah Children’s Saving Program will run through the school year with the goal for children and families to continue saving long after the pilot ends.  Moreover, Sequoyah Fund and First Citizens are grateful to New Kituwah Academy for hosting the initiative and wish to thank Elementary Administrator, Kylie Shuler, for coordinating the kick off, scheduling upcoming deposit days, and distributing program materials to families.

Info:  Shawn Spruce, Sequoyah Fund programs consultant, at 359-5004 (sspruce@sequoyahfund.org) or stop by Sequoyah Fund’s offices located inside the Ginger Lynn Welch Complex.

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