Bay Area program gives families a head start on saving for college
SARASOTA, Fla. - Saving for college can be a daunting task, especially with the cost of food and housing going up, but a Bay Area head start program is helping families stash cash away for higher education.
Shaquita Ford and her 3-year-old son Avion are walking toward a brighter future at "Children First" in Sarasota. They are participating in the Children First College Fund.
"I was excited about it because I'm like, wow, it's the opportunity for the kids to get free tuition, which is not offered every day, and for Children's First and a CFC foundation to be able to offer this to someone is awesome. Whether it's my child that's chosen or anyone else's, I think it's a good opportunity for them," explained Ford.
The fund was started by a couple of donors who wanted to give all children a chance to further their education.
"I think it's important because the cost of college has made higher education further and further out of reach for so many people," stated Philip Tavill, Children First CEO.
Students participating in the Children First College Fund receive $25 a week for college until they reach the 12th grade.
To participate, children must be between six months old and two years old. They must also have spent at least one year at the Children First Head Start program.
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The children get $25 a week for college tuition until they reach the 12th grade.
"So does a three-year-old know that that scholarship is there? No. But it gives the family hope. It gives the family the knowledge that with this generous donor and some contribution by them, their child can go to college one day," Tavill added.
The Children First College Fund was started by a couple of donors who wanted to give all children a chance to further their education.
Children First has been raising the expectations for families since 1961.
"It's helping kids develop their social skills, their emotional skills, their ability to, like all of us as adults, kind of play well with others and know how to how to interact in that kindergarten environment when they get there, in addition to having all those hard skills," Tavill explained.
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The program is a four-time designated Head Start "Program of Excellence" winner. It’s one of only two in the country.
"What that means is out of 1800-plus Head Start grantees in the country, there are nine out of 1800 that are programs of excellence. And out of those nine, there are two that have been named a program of excellence four consecutive times, and we're one of those two," Tavill said.
To participate in the scholarship program, children must be between six months old and two years old. They must also have spent at least one year at the Children First Head Start program.
For Ford and her family, it's the boost they need.
"It's like a small step or a little kick up the ladder. That's how I look at it. It's something that I would say, to be honest," she shared.
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The program gives children a head start toward success.
Twenty-five families have already signed up for the program.