West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue and Mission West Virginia presented 12 children with SMART529 college savings awards today as part of the third annual SMART529 Smart Start Award program. Each child will receive $1,200 invested in a SMART529 account. The awards help boost college savings for children adopted from the foster care system in West Virginia.
Today’s ceremony and luncheon at the Clay Center also served as a local kickoff for November’s designation as National Adoption Awareness Month. Children participated in a Build-a-Bear workshop and the “My Town” exhibit at the Clay Center.
The 12 children represent six families, which includes four sets of siblings. They range from 10 months to 12 years old. All recipients were adopted from the state’s foster care system and were selected by Mission West Virginia’s Frameworks program through a judged application process.
“I can’t think of a better cause or a more vulnerable population to help send to college,” Treasurer Perdue said. “National statistics indicate that less than 3 percent of foster care children end up graduating from college or receiving some type of higher education. Together we have an opportunity to improve those numbers here in our state.”
Treasurer Perdue started the project in 2015 through a partnership with Mission West Virginia. Funds for the award are raised through the SMART 5.29K run/walk. Races have been held in May of the past three years in Charleston’s East End. Last May’s race raised more than $16,000. Nearly 60 people ran the course, marked off at exactly 5.29 kilometers.
This year’s award ceremony brings the total to 31 children receiving a combined $37,200 over three years.
“We’re proud to partner with the Treasurer’s Office on a project that helps start savings accounts for these children who need it most,” said Rachel Kinder, Director of Frameworks. “These families often miss important milestones early on in the child’s life, so this opportunity to catch up on savings and celebrate their new bond is a unique experience.”
Mission West Virginia is a non-profit organization that serves as a liaison between adoption agencies, families and foster children through its Frameworks program. More information about Mission West Virginia and its Frameworks program is available at www.missionwv.org.SMART529
is a program of the West Virginia College Prepaid Tuition and Savings Program Board of Trustees. The SMART529
college savings plan has more than 132,000 accounts with investments totaling over $2.5 billion. West Virginia’s SMART529 program is open to investors nationwide. More information is available online at www.wvtreasury.com