Keystone Scholars sparks culture of achievement through an early start to saving
Wilkes-Barre, PA – Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella today was joined at Luzerne County Head Start by key county partners including Sen. John R. Gordner, Senate Majority Whip, Sen. Lisa Baker, Sen. John Yudichak, Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Rep. Tarah Toohil, staff from the office of Rep. Aaron Kaufer, County Manager Dave Pedri, and Lynn Evans Biga, Executive Director of Head Start Luzerne County, to highlight treasury’s new scholarship grant program, Keystone Scholars. Designed to help encourage higher education aspirations and to serve as a catalyst to help families start saving early, Torsella launched the Keystone Scholars program to provide a $100 scholarship grant to every child born or adopted in Pennsylvania to be used towards college and vocational education expenses. A six-county demonstration project—financed through private funds—is available now; proposed legislation sponsored by Senator Gordner has bipartisan support and would make the scholarship grant program available to every newborn statewide.
“Every child—in every community—deserves a chance to reach their full potential. But for whatever path these kids follow, we know they’re going to need some form of education past high school to get there. The Keystone Scholars program will help every child born in Luzerne County get an early start on the path to saving. But more importantly, we’re telling every child that we believe in them, and that we’re counting on them to do great things.”
Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella
As part of the press conference, new mother Alisha Trout of Wilkes-Barre shared why, as an early childhood development educator, she opened a Keystone Scholars account for her child. In addition, Julia Schneider, former Head Start student and 2017 Scholarship recipient—and now a Misericordia University freshman—spoke about how an early investment in her dreams helped college become a reality and set her on the path to success.
“Millions of jobs have been added nationwide since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. A vast majority of those jobs require some sort of post-secondary education, whether it be a college education or training attained through a trade or technical school. These funds can become the catalyst for achieving that necessary education and this investment demonstrates the Commonwealth’s strong partnership with every young person in our state.”
Senator, John R. Gordner
Following the press conference, Torsella toured the preschool, meeting with parents of Early Head Start children, and reading the book “Jenny Found A Penny” to a classroom of Head Start children. Treasury’s growing list of partners in the county includes: Luzerne County; 211 Northeast; Family Service Association of NEPA; Luzerne County Head Start, Inc.; and United Way of Wyoming Valley.
Treasurer Torsella unveiled the Keystone Scholars program in February 2018, which included the announcement of a demonstration project for all families living in Delaware, Elk, Indiana, Luzerne, Mifflin, and Westmoreland counties. Treasury raised $2.25 million in private funds to finance the demonstration project, so that every baby born or adopted from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019 within the six-counties will be eligible for a $100 scholarship grant. Families have until the child’s first birthday to claim the Keystone Scholarship.
The scholarship grant will grow through investment. Families have until their child turns 29 years old to use the funds. The scholarship grant – and any additional college savings each family saves by opening a PA 529 account – can be used for any qualified higher education expense at an approved institution of higher education, including trade schools, vocational programs, community colleges, and universities in or outside Pennsylvania.
All funds for the demonstration project are coming from philanthropic sources that include the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Foundation and the Neubauer Family Foundation. The demonstration project also includes The National Philanthropic Trust and research support from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and Duke University’s Common Cents Lab.
Families can preregister their child for Keystone Scholars at www.pa529.com/keystone by clicking on Sign Up. Once they have received their child’s birth certificate, they can log back in to finish their registration. Keystone Scholarships are available to children born in 2018 and 2019 to families living in the six demonstration project counties.
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