Categorized | Education

Children’s Savings Project starts at two isle schools


Children at Konawaena Elementary School and Kanu o ka Aina New Century Public Charter School are now able to open a savings account and start saving for their future.

In a partnership between Dr. Michael Cheang of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, local credit unions (Hawaii First Federal Credit Union and Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union), the Hawaii Alliance for Community Based Economic Development (HACBED), and funding support from the county Resource Center a program of the County’s Department of Research and Development, up to 375 children on the Big Island have the opportunity to open a savings account, set a savings goal, and receive $25 for saving their money until the end of 2010.

Coran Kitaoka opened a savings account for his daughter, Celine, at Konawaena Elementary School’s Children Savings Project First Deposit Day on Jan. 14. (Photo courtesy of HACBED)

In 2008, Cheang, assistant professor with the UH Family and Consumer Sciences Department, started the Children’s Savings Project at Prince Jonah Kuhio Elementary School in Honolulu, where a majority of the students receive free to reduced priced lunch. Since then, the project has expanded to three schools on Oahu with an average children’s savings rate of approximately $150 for the school year.

With the addition of Konawaena Elementary School and Kanu o ka Aina New Century Public Charter School in January 2010, the Children’s Savings Project now includes five schools statewide with the ability to reach more than 500 children. Several new schools will start the project in August 2010.

The Children’s Saving Project provides children an opportunity to learn about finances while saving for a goal, whether a toy, video game, or for college education.

As staffers from the local credit unions regularly go into the schools to collect deposits from children, their experiences will help policymakers and the larger community learn about children’s savings and it’s affect on our children’s financial behavior for the future.

Additionally, funding from the county Resource Center helps provide the financial incentive for children to save, while strategies for asset building led by HACBED help make the project work on Hawaii Island.

As families struggle to make ends meet during these tough economic times, the Children’s Savings Project provides children who primarily come from low-income families, a means to open and maintain savings accounts.

Families that are part of the project are seeking out ways to provide monies for their children to earn money to put into their savings account. Some families of the project on Oahu have formed weekend outings where they pick up cans and recycle them and put the monies earned into their children’s savings account.

Initial findings from the project show success in children’s savings behavior and their thinking about finances, as well as, changes in family financial behavior and family discussions around savings.

The Children’s Savings Project is part of a larger movement in Hawaii around family financial empowerment and asset building. The Children’s Savings Project complements other local asset building and financial empowerment programs and projects on the island, which include a youth IDA program in Makuu and free volunteer tax assistance sites across the island.

The county Resource Center and HACBED will soon reveal the report, Hoowaiwai Framework for Family Self Sufficiency and Economic Opportunity for Hawaii Island.

A growing project, the Children’s Savings Project on Hawaii Island will help start family conservations around finances and asset building in hopes of providing our island keiki an opportunity to save and learn about finances.

Mayor Billy Kenoi praised the project because it helps lay a firm foundation of financial responsibility that will help children in the project to achieve their financial goals later in life.

“The Children’s Saving Project helps build a culture of savings, investing, and sharing on Hawaii Island,” Kenoi said. “It is a smart way to prepare our kids for the future.”

For more information regarding the Children’s Savings Project, contact Larissa Meinecke at the Hawaii Alliance for Community Based Economic Development at 550-2661 or

The Hawaii Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED) is a statewide federally tax-exempt non-profit organization established in 1992 to encourage increased investments in sustainable and community-based approaches to economic development.

HACBED’s mission is to address social, economic, and environmental justice in Hawaii through community-based economic development; and seek to help strengthen the voice and actions of Hawaii’s families and communities so that they have the choice and control they need to become self-sufficient and resilient.

For more information about HACBED, call 550-2661 or e-mail, or visit

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