Learn more about inspiring college dreams

By Maria Bond

Schools have traditionally been the single source for educating children; however, students and the local community have much to gain from bridging the divide between school and community. Businesses now have the opportunity to foster students’ futures and inspire young students to pursue college through an organization called Promise Indiana.

Promise Indiana and the Mt. Vernon Community School Corp. (MVCSC) seek to build hope for students’ futures and create a “college-going culture,” beginning at a young age. Through the Promise Indiana model, parents open a 529 account for their child, and community partners join the school in creating an opportunity for a community match of the initial investment.

Through this initiative, students (as young as kindergarten) begin the dream of a post-secondary education and are further exposed to college and careers in the classroom. With the schools as a conduit to the 529 plans, parents familiarize themselves with the benefits and are more likely to act on it with the community’s support.

About the 529 Plan: A 529 plan is a college savings plan sponsored by Indiana. Savings can be used for tuition, books or education-related expenses at most two- and four-year colleges/universities. Indiana has one of the most liberal tax advantages for 529 plans, providing parents with a 20 percent tax credit for the year’s 529 contributions up to $1,000.

How does the community create a “college-going” culture? Transforming this culture begins by initiating community partners through the school to create “champions” who help to build the college dream in children by opening a college savings plan. This results in educating parents that affording college can be financially achievable by establishing a 529 account leveraged by community partners.

Mt. Vernon Community School Corp. is applying to be a pilot for the Promise Indiana 529 Program in January 2017. Promise Indiana prefers the entire community/county be engaged in leveraging efforts, making it easy for families to begin saving for post-secondary education. Promise Indiana is providing an introductory presentation to all community partners at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 in the MVCSC Administrative Service Center’s board room (1806 W. State Road 234, Fortville). Please consider joining us on behalf of your organization to learn how you can connect and inspire children. Additional information can be found promiseindiana.org.

Promise Indiana seeks to cultivate college-bound identities in children and transform 529s into progressive children’s savings accounts. MVCSC wants to partner with other Hancock County organizations to activate families and communities in the task of preparing children for college.

“When children have a savings account in their name, they are seven times more likely to attend college,” according to a study by Elliott & Beverly at Washington University Center for Social Development (2010). When college funds and college dreams are started at an early age, such as kindergarten, dreams are converted into an attainable reality and inspire a “college-going culture.”

Businesses have a direct correlation and opportunity to provide a hopeful future for children. Join us, partner with us, and together let’s inspire bright futures in children.

Maria Bond serves as the director communications for Mt. Vernon Community School Corp. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield reporter.com.