Perspective | What does college have to do with newborns? Everything, it turns out

June 29, 2022 | Carl Rist and Ginger Young, Education NC

When Christina McLean of Durham signed her daughter Lauren up for Book Babies Bright Futures, a Book Harvest program that contributes $500 into a savings account for Lauren’s college or career, she was overjoyed. “I did not see just the $500,” McLean said. “I saw $5,000… $50,000… $500,000… even $5 million! I saw a seed that, if I watered and nurtured it, would grow into a harvest that will help me fund my daughter’s future education.”

It is rare that a single initiative can leverage exponential and potentially life-changing impacts. Children’s savings accounts are just that: small investments with a potential for huge impact.

College is expensive. And many parents, rightfully and understandably, see it as out of reach for their children. Yet research by Professor Willie Elliott from the University of Michigan finds that children who have college savings of as little as $1-$499 are three times more likely to attend college and two-and-a-half times more likely to graduate than those who do not.

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