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College Savings Circle

College Savings Circle

The Silicon Valley Education Foundation in partnership with EARN and Step Up Silicon Valley is launching a pilot College Savings Circle program in East Side Alliance. The purpose of this pilot project is to support the goal of going to college for the mostly lower income communities of East San Jose. Savings Circle is an easy and self-empowering platform where parents and kids take charge and set their own goals in terms of time frame and the amount they can afford to save for college.  In this case, the minimum savings is $20/month.

A large portion of the target demographic for this project is underbanked and does not benefit from the financial tools that we take for granted. The support of a group coming together for a common purpose and helpful financial tools to better their credit profiles and help them save can increase the chances of their children pursuing a college education and escaping generational poverty. The social cohesion provided by ESA and the simple yet powerful platform of savings circle has the potential to scale to as many kids and parents of ESA as are willing to participate.


To instill a college mindset among underserved students and families through financial inclusion efforts that use college savings as a means of encouraging parents to save and make higher education a more viable option for their children


Set up an easy and self-empowering platform for 30 families, where parents and kids can take charge and set their own goals in terms of timeframe and the amount they can afford to save for college.


Silicon Valley Education Foundation
Jeffrey Ashe, Lead Advisor


The Step Up Silicon Valley Network first ideated the Kids College Savings account at its October 2013 Annual Retreat. Dana Bunnett of Kids in Common championed the initiative, with the group meeting regularly to push the initiative forward.  The initiative gained momentum after Professor Jeffrey Ashe of the Carsey School of Public Policy presented his research on how “Savings Groups are Revolutionizing Development” at our November 2014 Learning and Development Series. Step Up convened a small committee to discuss the possibility of creating and incubating a savings circle specifically for children’s college savings.

Today, Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) houses the College Savings Circle project under the leadership of Manny Barbara. On March 21, 2016, SVEF began community outreach and education efforts for the initiative by inviting 11 families in the Edenvale San Jose neighborhood to learn more about the program.  The goal is to increase educational opportunities and to instill a college mindset among 30 families in East Side Alliance through a college savings circle.

To learn more about Savings Circles and the work of Jeffrey Ashe, visit the website intheirownhands.com