For Immediate Release

May 27, 2022

Hildreth Institute Applauds Senate for New Funding to Support BabySteps Savings Program

Contact: Andrew Farnitano, 925-917-1354, andrew@crawfordstrategies.com

BOSTON – The Hildreth Institute, a non-profit research and policy center dedicated to restoring the promise of higher education as an engine of upward mobility for all, today applauded Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough) along with Senate leadership for $500,000 in new funding for the BabySteps Savings Program, which provides every child born or adopted in Massachusetts with a $50 deposit to start saving for their education.

“For a long time, we’ve seen higher education and training as critical components for economic mobility and financial empowerment – but these are becoming increasingly out of reach for many families across the state,” said Robert Hildreth, Founder and President of the Hildreth Institute. “BabySteps helps play an important role in not only helping start the savings process for families, but also giving them the financial planning tools they need to continue on this road. I am so grateful to Senator Feeney, Chairman Rodrigues, and Senate President Spilka for their investment in this program, which comes at such a critical time.”

Hildreth has played a pivotal role in the BabySteps program since it was established in 2019. As a founding sponsor, Hildreth provided funding to cover the deposits made to the first 6,000 children enrolled in the program.

The funding for BabySteps was secured through an amendment to the Senate Budget filed by Senator Feeney. It calls for $500,000 to establish a matching fund for private contributions to the BabySteps program, so that every dollar in private donations will be matched by $1 in state funding. Additionally, the amendment calls for this new funding to help promote the program in underserved communities, including low-income communities and communities of color.

“By helping Massachusetts families save for their children’s future, and by improving access to capital where it is most needed and least available, we can continue to make a positive impact on the long-term economic well-being, educational attainment, and finally, purposefully and intentionally, make a real dent in economic mobility and economic inequality,” said Senator Feeney.

Since 2019, all children born or adopted in Massachusetts are eligible for the deposit as long as they are residents of Massachusetts and their parents or guardians open a 529 college savings account through the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority (MEFA) within one year. This deposit helps incentivize families of all income levels to start saving for their children’s future today.

Savings in a 529 plan can be used for college costs including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and special needs services, K-12 tuition expenses, including vocational education programs, certain apprenticeship programs, or repayment of qualified student loans up to $10,000.

“We’ve seen great success with BabySteps, but too many families across the Commonwealth continue to face unsurmountable barriers when it comes to paying for higher education or vocational training,” continued Hildreth. “I look forward to working with the Senate to move this forward so we can take concrete steps toward helping those who will benefit the most from the program, including working families and our communities of color.”

In an effort to make enrollment as seamless as possible, parents can check a box on the birth certificate form they receive at the hospital to begin the enrollment process. All parents/guardians in Massachusetts have one year after a child is born or adopted to open a U. Fund 529 college savings account in order to receive the $50 deposit.

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