PHOTO STORY: Cass Kickstart to Careers prepares to welcome new students to program

Published 10:13 am Thursday, August 12, 2021

CASSOPOLIS — Wednesday evening, an assembly line was formed at the Cass District Library as adults stuffed envelopes with papers, stickers and chocolate coins. By the time they were done, nearly 70 envelopes sat on a table ready to be gifted to area elementary students as a welcome to the Cass Kickstart to Careers program.

Cass Kickstart to Careers, a children’s savings account program, provides incoming Sam Adams Elementary kindergarten students with an interest-bearing savings account with $25 already deposited. The program, which is operated in partnership with the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, helps students save money for their future while teaching them financial responsibility, according to program committee members.

As students age, the schools provide appropriate incentives to encourage students to save in their accounts, such as being rewarded for good grades or being involved in extracurricular activities.

“It’s not really taught in schools how money works or how to manage money and why it is important to plan and save,” said Cass Kickstart to Careers Committee President Ruth Andrews. “The main thing we want for the kids is not financial literacy, although that is a big part of it. The main thing is sometimes kids go all the way through high school without knowing what they want to do. So, we also want to address that by talking to them about careers and what they need to enter a certain field and how much is it going to cost. We want to help them start saving now.”

Now in its third year, Andrews said the program has proven successful.

“It’s been going very smoothly except for the pandemic, which of course interrupts everything,” she said. “In our first year, we were able to take the kids on a field trip to the bank and really show them where their money is and help them understand how it worked. The second year we weren’t able to do any of that. … We are certainly hoping to take the kids on a field trip again this year.”

Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic threw at the Cass Kickstart to Career program, Andrews said it has all been worth it to see how much joy it brings the students involved.

Incoming Sam Adams Elementary Principal agreed that the program is a positive experience for her students.

“The kids love it,” she said. “I’ve heard so many great things about [the program] already. The kids are so excited about it.”