By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – A new program will help low-income Mississippi students build college savings funds.
The 1:1 Fund was launched this month to allow donors to provide matching funds for nearly 9,000 children in two test markets – Mississippi and San Francisco.
The plan is to expand nationwide and make it available to as many as 100,000 children by 2015.
Plans for growth
In Mississippi, the program currently is open only to pre-school children in Jackson and in Washington County, but expanding throughout the state is in the works. It operates through the Mississippi College Savings Account Program, a pilot program launched two years ago with funding from the Kellogg Foundation.
Families can open a deposit-only account with a $50 contribution. Funds are matched, and the money can be used for post-secondary education costs.
“It has been such a fantastic program,” said Ernestine Bilbrew, vice president for program development at the Mississippi Community Financial Access Coalition, one of three partners that comprise the MCSAP.
Second to last
Mississippi ranks second to last in the nation in the percentage of residents with a four-year college degree at 19.5 percent, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development.
Bilbrew said the program also works with parents to teach them sound financial habits.
“We know we can only be successful if parents are successful,” she said.
Dollars from donors go into a pool that is used to match contributions from families, Bilbrew said.
“I think this has an opportunity in the long run to have a really big impact on our poverty level,” she said.
For more information on the 1:1 Fund or to donate, visit