A kindergarten class at P.S. 111 in Long Island City is still working on the alphabet, but the city already is making sure each of the 4- and 5-year-olds can have a college savings account.
Last fall, the Bill de Blasio Administration offered to open an account for every child attending kindergarten in School District 30 in Queens.
Each participating family was given $100 for the 529 account, which lets the money grow tax-free as long as it is eventually is used to pay for education.
"The research shows that a child who has a college savings program, anywhere between a dollar and $500, is three times more likely to go to college than a child that doesn't have a college savings program," one expert said. "And once they're in college, they're four times as likely to graduate."
Numbers NY1 obtained show that 94 percent of the eligible families accepted the offer of $100, creating 3,120 accounts.
Each of the families can receive another $200 by meeting certain benchmarks, such as contributing small amounts of their own money.
12 percent of the families added their own funds in the first three months they could do so, a figure officials called encouraging.
"Through the partnership, the parents have learned it starts now, it's an investment program, that children have the opportunity to go to college, and they're truly excited about that."
A Wall Street executive's foundation gave $10 million to launch the program. Emails that Mayor Bill de Blasio released last week after a lawsuit by NY1 show he initially planned to roll out the savings program for all city kids, with each account receiving $50 in seed money. But the administration decided to start with a smaller group of children and give each kid more money.
"Of course, the hope is to go universal and to have this program citywide, and there is really tremendous enthusiasm on behalf of the city to do that."
Some parents who are undocumented immigrants declined to accept a funded account, fearing it could lead to immigration agents arresting them. But the city says no family has to reveal its immigration status. It's hoping those families change their minds and will allow them to open an account throughout their child's grade school years.