learn / 2015

YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE: College Matched Savings Accounts

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Youth Policy Institute

YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE helps low-income students prepare for and go to college through financial education and a unique 3:1 match that puts $981 into special savings accounts for 1,300 students who otherwise may not be able to afford school. $981 is the gap to cover community college costs after financial aid, an amount that also makes it three times more likely students will enroll in college—and four times more likely they’ll graduate. That’s something great for L.A. now and in 2050.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Invest in the future of L.A. youth so they are empowered to earn their college degree and go on to make positive change in their communities and citywide.

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • Percent of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • College matriculation rates

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

L.A. is a wonderful place to learn, but only for those with access to opportunities. At the college level, access includes funds for entry and graduation. YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE provides funding and financial education, along with academic and college readiness support, to help L.A. families learn and thrive.

An L.A. family earning less than $30,000 annually receives an average of $5,819 in financial aid toward the $6,800 annual cost of an L.A. community college. That leaves $981 still needed to make it happen. YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE steps in to provide this with special College Savings Individual Development Accounts paired with financial education, financial aid workshops, and one-on-one financial coaching.

Take Ricardo Morales, who is a student at College of the Canyons. He’s majoring in architecture. His brother Juan Daniel attends L.A. Mission College as a business major. Their youngest brother Jose is a senior in high school and hopes to attend college as well. Their family strongly believes in the importance of education, and the brothers are motivated to succeed, but their family has been concerned about the money it will take to help all three of them graduate. “I thought my children weren’t going to be able to go to college because we didn’t have the resources,” their mother says.

But the family found YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE, and all three sons signed up. With generous support from LA2050, all three can receive matching funds needed to help them achieve their college dreams.

Because YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE isn’t just a match. For every dollar a student puts into their account, our program will TRIPLE the amount, up to $660. Factor in two bonuses provided by the program, and suddenly each student has the $981 they need to cover what is otherwise a daunting funding gap for many low-income students.

But this can only happen if—and only if—YPI receives $100,000 to match U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds already in hand, because current YPI funding does not cover the match requirements. The support of LA2050 is vital to ensure that at least 262 more low-income L.A. students will have access to learn, changing their lives, their families’ lives, and the landscape of our city.

By 2050, not only will these students be college graduates—so will their children. Leveling the playing field and creating opportunity: That’s how we make L.A. the best place to learn.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

For YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE partnership with LA2050, we will evaluate our success based on achieving these goals:

At least 262 low-income students open matched College Savings Individual Development Accounts to receive $26 sign-up bonus.

Each student saves at least $220 to receive 3:1 match.

Each student makes deposits for six consecutive months to receive a $75 bonus match.

In total, YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE students supported by LA2050 save over $250,000 to use for their college education (including students’ savings and matching funds).

At least 262 students receive financial literacy education, financial coaching, and participate in a financial aid workshop to increase their financial capability.

At least 262 students enroll in or continue college.

This evaluation will allow us to see how YPI’s COLLEGE PROMISE serves students like the Morales brothers and how, working together, we can change lives and transform the L.A. landscape.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Network/relationship support