Mayor Newsom and kindergartners discuss college
A bright and unseasonably warm morning at Sanchez Elementary in the Mission District brought uncommon excitement to the urban school. At eleven o'clock this morning, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Treasurer Jose Cisneros, two of the city's supervisors, and a crush of news cameras crowded into a small library for the formal launch of the Kindergarten to College initiative.
Laying the foundations for Kindergarten to College has meant months of hard work, and overcoming seen and unseen challenges, to bring city-seeded savings account to this year's Kindergarten class at Sanchez. The mood was ebullient and proud; from Citi, which is providing the accounts at no cost to kids and parents, and EARN, which is matching the first $100 saved to those accounts, all those present stood up to say: we are so excited to be here, and nothing is more important.
Except for the Kindergartners themselves, who sat patiently through their excitement. But before they filed out, it was clear what they thought of this idea: "Wow!"
Foundation leaders and elected officials talked of the research that supports this initiative; Newsom staunchly decried any budget that just focuses on cuts and taxes and ignores the opportunity to actually invest. The Asset Building Program's Anne Stuhldreher has provided indispensable guidance to the city in this groundbreaking pursuit, and she highlighted again that this kind of automatic, easy structure for saving can literally transform children's futures. It's a concept that works, and that runs right through political lines.
For a detailed overview of the plan, see this post and the mayor's press release. More pictures, video, and a Spanish language interview are soon to follow as well.
The pilot initiative has made its auspicious launch - this morning's Chronicle ran the story at the top of its front page, more outlets are following suit, and blogs too. And if community sentiment and involvement are any factor, this initiative could well prove a success. It's too soon to tell but an incredible, long-overdue milestone has nonetheless been reached. Congratulations, San Francisco- or as they say in Kindergarten, "Give yourself a pat on the back!" You've earned it.