Opportunity LA Becomes the Largest Universal Children’s Savings Account Program in the Nation

The City and County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Unified School District have partnered to create Opportunity LA, providing a Children’s Savings Account and $50 seed deposit for all LAUSD 1st-grade students LOS ANGELES – Today local elected officials joined together to announce that Opportunity LA, the LA region Children’s Savings Account program, has opened 44,363 accounts on behalf of 1st-grade students across the region, making it the largest Children’s Savings Account program in the nation. Through a historic joint partnership between the City and County of Los Angeles and LA Unified School District, Opportunity LA (OLA) began providing a savings account with a $50 seed deposit to every first-grade student in select high-need schools in LAUSD in Spring 2021. As of Spring 2022, every first-grade student at all 519 LAUSD elementary schools have been automatically enrolled in the program to receive a savings account held for their benefit which includes a $50 seed deposit. OLA maintains its program accounts with Citibank and utilizes the Citi Start Saving® system to administer the financial aspects of the program. “Too many children simply can’t afford higher education,” said Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez. “Because of the work we’ve done here and the funds we’ve invested, 44,363 children can now plan for a future that includes higher education. I’m very proud of this partnership and I cannot wait to see what these children achieve.” In addition to the automatic $50 seed deposit for students, this year families are able to receive a dollar-for-dollar Tax Time Savings match, up to $25, when their parents or guardians file their taxes with Free Tax Prep Los Angeles and make a deposit of at least $5 during tax season into their student’s OLA account. The program will also provide an additional savings reward for unhoused first-grade students who participate in the program. “This historic program does more than give kids and families a financial boost toward making college more affordable and accessible—it also instills a college-going mindset in our students from an early age,” said LAUSD School Board Member Nick Melvoin. Child Savings Accounts can be an effective policy tool for reducing educational and economic inequality. Research shows that children, regardless of the family’s income, race, or educational attainment, with savings accounts will be up to seven times more likely to attend college than those without an account. “I am proud to be working with the City of Los Angeles, along with LAUSD, to provide every first-grader in Los Angeles with a free Children's Savings Account (CSA),” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair, Holly J. Mitchell. “Opportunity L.A. is not only preparing families for success, it's helping us achieve our shared goal of alleviating poverty and creating a more equitable LA. This program will help even the playing field for those most in need so that pursuing post-secondary education is within reach for more children regardless of how much their family earns. I look forward to the impact this historic investment will have on the lives of our children and the future of Los Angeles County.” In Spring 2021, the pilot OLA program launched and the initial cohort of schools was composed of those schools identified as high-need according to the School Equity Needs Index (SENI), which measures chronic absenteeism, percentage of foster youth, percentage of homeless youth, percentage of English learners, percentage of low-income students with disabilities, average household size, median household income, housing, personal crime index and percentage of household with public assistance. “Access to college isn’t just about getting good grades. For many students, it starts with the idea that college is even a possibility,” said Brandee McHale, Head of Community Investing and Development at Citi. “We are focused on helping students save for college by providing banking services to the Opportunity LA program through our Citi Start Saving® platform. Together, we hope that our efforts help create more equitable pathways to opportunity for families across the City of Los Angeles.” The OLA Program is administered by the Los Angeles Community Investment for Families Department and works to improve the lives of families living in Los Angeles by increasing access to higher education, promoting financial capability and improving economic stability for the next generation. The program was created in 2021 in a partnership between the City and County of Los Angeles and LAUSD and is funded through City, County and State funding. "The Community Investment for Families Department is charged with ending intergenerational poverty and is proud to administer Opportunity LA, now in its 2nd year,” said Abigail Marquez, the General Manager of the Community Investment for Families Department. “This savings account program will help break down barriers to postsecondary education and connect families to additional financial empowerment programs available in our region, creating an immediate and long-term positive impact for Angelenos." “The opportunity created by Opportunity LA’s Children’s Savings Account is a radical change in how we tangibly support students and families in our highest need communities to truly prepare for college,” said Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin. “This public investment in their individual and our collective future acknowledges our governmental obligation to correct for the injustices of the past and clearly communicates to students that college is waiting for them and their community is here to support them along the way.” Savings accounts are available to students regardless of income, background, or immigration status. Participating families have received a welcome packet containing program information and their student’s account number to register their student’s accounts and start making contributions. Families can begin making deposits immediately in-person, online, through the mail and via direct deposit. For more information about Opportunity LA, visit www.opportunityla.com. ###

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