Kindergarten to College Recognized as Innovation in Government Finalist

Kindergarten to College Recognized as Harvard Ash Center’s 2015 Innovation in Government Finalist

San Francisco families have saved more than $1,000,000 for college


Cambridge, Mass. – May 5, 2015 – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today Kindergarten to College as a finalist in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition. These government initiatives represent the dedicated efforts of city, state, and federal governments, and address such policy issues as economic development, environmental and community revitalization, public health, equal access to education, emergency preparedness, and health care. These programs were selected by a cohort of policy experts, researchers, and practitioners. A full list of the Top 25 and finalist programs is available at

Kindergarten to College (K2C) is the first universal and automatic children’s savings program in the United States. The idea behind Kindergarten to College is relatively simple: to help families save earlier and to save more for post-secondary education by removing barriers and providing incentives to spur savings. The program, which establishes a college savings account for every kindergarten student enrolled in San Francisco public schools, has opened more than 18,630 accounts since it began almost four years ago. Families have invested more than $1,000,000 of their own money, and 50% of contributing families are in the National School Lunch Program earning less than $40,000 a year for a family of four. All accounts are held at Citibank.

“K2C has made college savings a reality for families at all income levels in San Francisco,” said José Cisneros, Treasurer of the City and County of San Francisco. “I am grateful for the recognition by the Ash Center at Harvard. I know families in San Francisco are struggling, and I am proud that we have created a pathway for college attendance for our students.”

K2C is run by the San Francisco Treasurer’s Office of Financial Empowerment (SF OFE) in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Program leadership, along with other programs named as finalists, will be making presentations to the National Selection Committee of the Innovations in American Government Awards, with the winner to be announced this summer. The presentations will be streamed live starting at 1:30 pm EDT on May 20 at

“These programs represent the forefront in government innovation, and a cross-section of issues of the twenty-first century, including renewable energy, community revitalization, and public-private partnerships,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government program at the Ash Center. “They demonstrate that efforts to make government work better can stem not only from executive orders and statewide initiatives, but also small community programs and private citizens on social media.”

“The Ash Center is proud to recognize these programs and hopes that they will become a vital part of our ongoing efforts to create a community of innovators,” said Tony Saich, director of the Ash Center. “Each Top 25 program can become a blueprint for similar enterprises at all levels of government, inspiring leaders around the country to help improve their communities with opportunities for dialogue and replication.”

The Innovations in American Government Awards was created by the Ford Foundation in 1985 in response to widespread pessimism and distrust in government’s effectiveness. Since its inception, over 500 government innovations across all jurisdiction levels have been recognized and have collectively received more than $22 million in grants to support dissemination efforts. Such models of good governance also inform research and academic study around key policy areas both at Harvard Kennedy School and academic institutions worldwide. Past winners have served as the basis of case studies taught in more than 450 Harvard courses and over 2,250 courses worldwide.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Harsha
Associate Director for Communications, Ash Center

Amanda Fried
Policy and Legislative Manager, Office of the Treasurer

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit

About Kindergarten to College
K2C was spearheaded by the San Francisco Treasurer’s Office of Financial Empowerment (SF OFE) in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) in 2011. City leaders were motivated by research findings from the University of Kansas that found that students with college savings – even of less than $500 - are three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate than those without.  Today, every child entering kindergarten in the city’s public schools automatically receives a college savings account at Citibank containing $50. Children in the National Student Lunch Program receive an additional $50 deposit.   K2C encourages families to save by matching the savings of families with a $100 match for the first $100 of savings and a $100 bonus for six months of consistent savings.