SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco program got a tip of the hat on Tuesday from the New York Times. It's an effort to help every student make it to college by providing a financial boost from the start.
It's a bit chaotic at the Citibank branch in San Francisco's Chinatown, the first time there's been a field trip for youngsters who've come to make a deposit.
Sofia Wen and her classmates at the Chinese Education Center are adding their money to the college savings account the city automatically sets up for every kindergartner in public school.
Former Mayor Gavin Newsom and Treasurer Jose Cisneros rolled out the innovation back in 2010, even though fiscal conservatives questioned the use of taxpayer funds.
"You make investments, you don't just make cuts," Newsom said.
The program, called Kindergarten to College, has an initial $50 deposit from the city.
There's a $50 bonus if the child is low income, and there's matching money from corporations, foundations and private donors that rewards students who add to their accounts.
"All the studies have shown that kids who have college savings accounts in their own names are six to seven times more likely to make it to college, and even if they have less than $500 in there, they are at least three times more likely to make it to college," Kindergarten to College's Carol Lei said.
In a city where many families don't have bank accounts, their youngsters become financially literate.
All the accounts are held at Citibank and there are no fees or charges.
"We're all about financial inclusion, how much more fun and how much more impactful can it be to have a savings account for kindergartners," Citibank's Vicki Joseph said.
There are now 18,000 students who have savings accounts.
Kindergarten to College costs the city about $650,000 a year.
It was the first in the country, but now the U.S. Secretary of Education shares these kids' excitement.