The Western Boone Promise Scholars program addresses two realities of the 21st century: quality jobs of today and tomorrow require at least some level of post-secondary education, and students with an expectation of attending college achieve more at every level of their elementary and secondary education than their peers without such expectations. This project makes a long-term investment in our community by investing in the academic future of its youngest students. With a long-term funding commitment from the Greater Jamestown Area Fund (GJAF), each kindergarten student in Western Boone Schools, for the next twelve years, will be presented with an Indiana CollegeChoice 529 college savings account funded at $100. Each student still enrolled at Western Boone through third grade will receive an additional $50 for their account.
How Does It Work?
Through the schools and with the support of an experienced Edward Jones Financial Advisor, parents of kindergarten students will be presented information about the funds in a series of evening seminars, and will be given assistance in completing the application process. Western Boone Schools will then distribute the funds from the GJAF to each student's account along with the completed applications.
Families will be provided financial counseling opportunities as the students age, and additional contributions can be made by families and community members. A twelve-year commitment for the initial account funding from the GJAF means that at the end of the commitment cycle, every student in Western Boone Schools will have a college savings account which can be used not only for traditional four-year colleges, but for any accredited post-secondary education, including trade and vocational schools. Virgil Benge's endowment will have supported the education aspirations of some 1,500 Western Boone students!
The WBEF board oversees the program and its future growth and implementation.
What Are Its Benefits?
At its most basic level, the Promise Scholars program will increase the percentage of Western Boone graduates continuing their education beyond high school. However, research indicates that establishing a college savings account also provides the following benefits:
- Students are nearly seven times more likely to graduate high school
- Students are two times more likely to attend college
- Students maintain a higher rate of attendance and a lower rate of discipline referrals
- Parents begin planning for their child's future at an earlier age with guidance from a professional
- Parents improve their own financial literacy and long-term economic stability