El Monte (CA) – The El Monte Promise Foundation launched a program to help local students afford college Thursday with $670,000 in donations during an event at Arceo Park that included more than 500 first-grade students from partnering districts, a White House representative and local educators, residents, organizations and businesses.

The Scholars Savings Program is an opportunity for families to become engaged in financing their children’s pursuit of higher education by opening a 529 college savings account. Students in grades one through four will be eligible to receive a incentive donation with each monthly deposit that their families make.

“This is truly an exciting day, not just for our organization, but for our entire city as we collectively commit to making college a reality for all our students,” said Norma Edith Garcia, El Monte Promise Foundation Board President and a member of the Board of Trustees at Rio Hondo College.

During the event, Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, praised the commitment of local educators and community members to their children’s future.

“El Monte is a shining example of what other communities need to do across the country to make sure that other students in other communities have the same access to college,” Ceja said. “We want other community leaders to step up to the plate and answer our call to action. We need more communities like El Monte to invest in education.”

Major donations made to the Promise Foundation include $500,000 from the California Community Foundation, $120,000 from El Monte/South El Monte Chamber of Commerce and El Monte Coalition of Latino Professionals and $50,000 from Citibank.

The Promise Foundation aims to work closely with partners and the community to help students open Scholars Savings Accounts because studies show a child with a college savings account in their name is 7 times more likely to go to college. (Elliot and Beverly, Washington University Center for Social Development, 2010).

Additionally, El Monte City School District and Mountain View School District will implement financial literacy education standards, which are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, to reinforce the importance of saving for college. The El Monte Promise Foundation was established thanks to a seed grant from the California Community Foundation.

The Promise Foundation is now pursuing additional funding sources to help expand the number of families served. For more information on the El Monte Promise Foundation services or to donate, please visit www.promisenow.org or contact Project Manager Christina Davila at 626-782-2753.