Cass County Commissioners hear presentation on Cass Kickstart to Careers

CASSOPOLIS — Thursday evening, Cass County Commissioners learned about how a local group is helping young students plan for the future.

Becky Moore, a member of the Cass Kickstart to Careers board, presented to the Cass County Board of Commissioners Thursday evening during the county board’s regular meeting. In her presentation, Moore explained the goals of Cass Kickstart to Careers and how it is being implemented in local schools.

Cass Kickstart to Careers, launched this past school year, provides all incoming Sam Adams Elementary kindergarten students with interest-bearing child savings accounts with an initial deposit of $25. The project, which is meant to help children begin saving for post-secondary education, encourages students and families to make deposits into the bank account throughout the student’s school career, and additional financial incentives may be awarded to students who achieve academic or attendance goals, according to program representatives. The funds put into the CSAs will not be available to students until they graduate high school, and families can opt-out of the program if they choose to do so. So far, Moore said no parent has opted out of the program.

Cass Kickstart was made possible through a partnership between the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, Cassopolis Public Schools, Circle Credit Union and the Cass Kickstart Committee.

“We are encouraging these students to pursue post-secondary education,” Moore said. “This is also to encourage students and families to work on financial literacy.”

During Thursday’s presentation, Moore pointed to studies that show CSAs can give parents a higher expectation for their child’s future education and give students higher hopes for their own futures.

“It’s not about the money,” Moore said. “It’s about working with families for 13 years to underline how important this is going to be for them.”

Already, Moore said children and families are excited about the program.

“They can already see their accounts growing,” Moore said of the kindergarten students participating. “We view Cass Kickstart as an investment in our community, and we hope everyone else will, too.”

Also Monday, the board of commissioners approved a resolution honoring February as Black History Month. The resolution was read by commissioner Michael Grice, who noted that Cass County was once a spot on the Underground Railroad and is now home to more than 4,000 African American residents.

“Our black and African American brothers and sisters are part of our modern story as leaders and important members of our county community,” Grice read. “Now, therefore be it resolved the Cass County Board of Commissioners upholds and endorses February as Black History Month and encourages all members of the community to participate in events surrounding Black History Month and to celebrate all of our heritage in Cass County.”

In other business, the Cass County Board of Commissioners approved the following appointments to Cass County boards and commissions:

• Edwin Johnson to the Economic Development Corporation Board for an unexpired term ending Sept. 30, 2023.

• David Kring to the Economic Development Corporation Board for an unexpired term ending Sept. 30, 2025.

• Dianna McGrew to the Cass County Planning Commission for a three-year term ending July 31, 2023.

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