This past school year, Ele‘ele Elementary School’s third graders opened 66 new accounts, through their partnership with Gather Federal Credit Union, and the UH Manoa Hawaii “Kids’ Savings Project.”
During the school year, the credit union visited the school regularly to collect deposits from the students in third, fourth and fifth grades. Since its partnership, Ele‘ele Elementary School has deposited more than $152,220 in the last six years. This year, the students saved a combined total of $30,311.05.
“A big part of the Kids’ Savings Project was having the students apply what they learned to real life situations,” according to the school. “When the kids shopped at our classroom stores, they bought their needs before their wants, and saved their play money instead of spending it all at once. One student from each homeroom received a Monopoly game for saving the most money.”
The UH Manoa Hawai‘i Kids Savings Project was initiated in 2008. One of its founding members is Dr. Michael Cheang, a professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Dr. Cheang established this project because of a heartbreaking childhood memory.
He remembers watching his mother sell her wedding ring in order to pay the bills for the family. That moment never left him, and he started this project in elementary schools across the state.
Based on an article written in Honolulu Family Magazine, Dr. Cheang’s research on a national level and showed that:
• Less than 10 percent of students from low-income families graduate from college.
• The importance of the program is not how much is being saved. Rather, the ability to save enables people to think about what is possible for them.
• Children with saving accounts are more likely to get better grades and complete more years of education regardless of their family’s income level.
• Youth with savings accounts are more likely to graduate from high school.
• Among the youth expected to attend college, those with savings accounts in their names are four to six times more likely to attend college.
The article also states that, “The Hawaii Kids’ Savings Project reflects the national perspective because the accounts are established at a critical stage of development in a child’s life, and the initial seed money provided to each child is instrumental in helping that child to get started with saving money.”
Stephenie Brown is business development manager and Kailee Nii is a Gather summer intern.