Hamilton County’s new Financial Literacy Council wants kids to know higher education is possible | News, Sports, Jobs


Availa Bank’s Ryan Williams and Scott Bargfrede, left, donated $10,000 as a two-year contribution to the Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County for the AvailaKares 529 college savings account last week . Pictured with them, from left, are Cindy Im, Hamilton County Economic Development Director and Financial Literacy Council Member, Kelli Reis, Sunset Heights Director and Financial Literacy Council Member, and Rick Young , Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors. and Chairman of the Financial Literacy Council. The contribution will help provide more Hamilton County kindergartens for second-grade students with a college education boost. If you have not yet registered your children, pick up a registration form from any school office.

Hamilton County offers adults a unique opportunity to inspire young children to consider college when they reach this age.

It’s the Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County.

According to Barb Wollan, who is the secretary of the organization, the United States ranks 14th in the world when it comes to financial literacy.

The significance of this statistic is that research shows that a lack of financial knowledge and skills can limit people’s financial well-being throughout their lives.

This includes planning how they will pay for post-secondary education.

“I believe in the importance of developing financial skills”, said Wollan, who is also a humanities scholar at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “That’s why I support the Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County and its initiatives to build financial literacy skills among youth in our community.

The Council is a new non-profit organization, she said.

His main project is to launch a county-wide children’s savings account program in partnership with Availa Bank.

“We are grateful for the Availa Foundation’s continued support for this project,” said Rick Young. He is Chairman of the Board.

“However, Availa does not provide funds for the operation of the program, which requires substantial data entry, communication with the College Savings Iowa 529 program, and parent outreach. We have a contracted person for a few hours a month to handle all of this, which costs money,” he added.

“We hope to make this a true community effort by gaining the support of dozens, if not hundreds, of local organizations and individuals.”

Currently, the Council is seeking support at all levels – from $25 to $100 to $1,000. You can do this at www.financialliteracycouncil.com/donate.

“Our hope,” Young said, “It’s that people will make making the financial literacy council a yearly habit, but we welcome one-time contributions.”

About Children’s Savings Accounts

In Hamilton County, the program is called AvailaKares. It establishes a 529 college savings plan with an initial deposit of $100 for each kindergarten graduate of a Hamilton County school, after parents complete an enrollment form.

Availa is the primary funder of the accounts, but Hamilton County is also contributing some funding. These funds are then available for the student to use for any type of accredited post-secondary education. They remain available to the young person if they do not go directly to school – they can access the funds for up to 10 years after graduation.

According to Barb Wollan, research on similar projects in forward-thinking communities has shown that children who have even a small amount of money set aside for their education after high school do better in school. They are more likely to complete high school and more likely to enroll in post-secondary education.

Wollan said, “The idea is that when a child grows up knowing that there is money set aside for their future education, it creates a vision – they start to believe that further education is possible and even likely. for him.”

Added to that, she says, is that their community wants to invest in them. This is an important motivation for students.

The ultimate vision of the Financial Literacy Council of Hamilton County is for other donors to step in in the future to make additional contributions to children’s accounts as they reach further educational milestones.

Here’s an example that Wollan says might work: Recently, children were recognized by the Kendall Young Library in Webster City for their achievements in reading books. In such a circumstance, each library, in each town in Hamilton County, could donate, say, $10 to a child’s established college fund. This way, the community would have an active role to play in bringing a child to college one day.

Even so, the amount of money is not the key. The simple fact of having an account makes the difference.

Establishing a broad operational funding base of approximately $7,000 per year will allow the Council to take the time and energy currently spent on sustaining operations and instead focus it on growing its outreach efforts the financial literacy community.

Contributions of $50 or more

are designated by partner level:

s Platinum — $1,000 or more;

s Gold — $500 to $999;

s Silver — $200 to $499;

s Bronze — $50 to $199.

Information on sponsorship levels is available at www.financialliteracycouncil.com/donate.



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Geraldine L. Melton