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Oakland Promise’s “Brilliant Baby” program successfully enrolls more than 1,000 families in college savings accounts

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Oakland college graduates, dressed in green, sitting at their graduation ceremony.

Oakland Promise has enrolled more than 1,000 families into its “Brilliant Baby” program. It helps low-income families fund their children's college education by providing an initial 500 dollar investment.

The initial deposit is funded by a combination of donations from the City of Oakland, private companies, and individuals.

This is how it works: the money is put into a 529 plan and the investment accrues over time. A 529 plan enables the college account owner to receive special tax benefits.  

For Oakland Promise, its combined investment from more than 1,000 families has seen a nearly 33 percent gain since 2017.

In order to qualify, a baby must be under one-years of age, a resident of Oakland, and eligible for Medi-Cal. In addition, the program provides each family with a financial literacy coach, as well as general parenting workshops.

Oakland Promise is part of a larger effort to address educational inequalities in the Oakland area.

In a study by the California Department of Education looking at 2017-2018 college-going data, 58 percent of Oakland high school graduates enrolled in college within a year of graduating. That’s six percent lower than the state average.