State Treasurer Janet Cowell is donating $100 each to kindergartners at two elementary schools in North Carolina to help them attend college.
On Monday, Cowell spoke with students at Lynn Road Elementary School in Raleigh about setting up savings accounts, managing their money and preparing for college.
The Class of 2029 listened quietly until she got to the part about giving each child $100. They then erupted into ooh’s and ah’s.
“As treasurer, I believe greatly in financial literacy and I sit on the state school board, so education is super important ... as part of my job but also a core value,” said Cowell, who is not seeking another term.
Cowell’s campaign will donate funds to College Foundation Inc., a nonprofit that manages North Carolina’s college savings program. Parents of students at Lynn Road, as well as students at Ferguson Easley Elementary School in Fayetteville, can set up an individual NC 529 Account for their children.
The accounts will be in the child’s name. After parents set up an account, $100 will be deposited into it.
“We’re honored to have this opportunity for students at our school,” said Kim Grant, principal of Lynn Road. “Now they can better prepare for college.”
Cowell chose Lynn Road because she attends Asbury United Methodist Church on Creedmoor Road nearby. The congregation there regularly volunteers at programs and events at the school.
She also picked Lynn Road because some students at the school come from low-income families. During the 2014-15 school year, more than 50 percent of the school’s students received free or reduced lunch.
Children who have savings accounts for college are seven times more likely to attend and graduate than those who do not have savings accounts, according to a report by William Elliott III, an associate professor at the University of Kansas.
“It’s one of the tried and true examples of something that really makes a difference in college attendance,” Cowell said.
Cowell, a Democrat, is leaving office after two terms as state treasurer. Democratic candidate Dan Blue III and Republican candidate Dale Folwell are competing for the position.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler