What is The First Fund?
The First Fund is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Through private donations and one-on-one mentorship, The First Fund is focused on providing financial assistance and guidance to first-grade students and their families in the Indianapolis community.
First graders who show aptitude and promise, but whose families have had some financial hardship (i.e., nominees must be receiving free/reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program), will receive a $1,000 donation to their own 529 College Savings Plan. Once the account is live, the student (now a scholar of The First Fund) will be introduced to his or her mentor.
Mentors have many jobs. They are expected to:
Form a relationship with the scholar’s family
Work on savings and investment strategies
Instill values of higher education
Serve as an additional role model.
When the scholar turns eighteen years of age, graduates high school, or earns a GED, the $1,000 investment (and all its incremental growth) will be released to them.
The First Fund is entirely volunteer-staffed and organized. That means that every dollar donated goes toward our mission of empowering scholars and providing their families with a financial boost and investment know-how.
Why First Graders?
If college isn’t talked about, it is difficult to aspire to. So, we asked ourselves this: How do we put college on the table for the children and families who currently consider it a pipe dream?
Through the initial seed investment and the continued relationship between the scholar, the scholar’s family, and The First Fund, we aim to make college top-of-mind for everyone involved. The First Fund is here to repeatedly say, “We believe in you. We have set aside money for you. We will work with your family to save even more. And will be here to support you in these crucial fundamental years.”
What is a 529 College Savings Plan?
A 529 College Savings Plan is an education-focused investment vehicle, designed to help people save for future education costs. 529 plans offers the best income-tax breaks available (the account grows tax free, and can be withdrawn tax free as well, given that all investment are put toward qualified higher-education expenses).
What’s the process?
First-grade students are nominated by their teachers (we currently support Indianapolis schools)
To ensure a fit, directors of The First Fund chat with the student, their families, and their teachers.
Scholarships are given out in waves, and celebrations are had!
The First Fund invests $1,000 in the scholar’s 529 plan.
We introduce the scholar to his or her First Fund Mentor. Scholars and mentors will meet every 4-6 weeks to have fun and engage in community events. Mentors will also meet with the scholars’ families to chat about financial literacy, propose tips, and, generally, be an additional support system. No super-human financial literacy is required by the mentor, as The First Fund provides all of that.
How can I help?
Here are a few ways to help The First Fund:
The ongoing success of The First Fund is dependent on the relationship formed with the scholars and their families. We are looking for individuals in the community who want to spend 1-2 hours per month with the scholar, in any way that is fit. If your scholar is a soccer player, go kick a ball around. If your scholar is an artist, go paint! You are there to serve as a role model and inspiration, while motivating the scholar to keep working hard in school (and in life). If you would like more information on becoming a mentor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We accept student nominations on a rolling and ongoing basis. If you know a first grade teacher, let them know about The First Fund and have them nominate their students. If you have a connection to principals, school administrators or anyone in the education community, we would love an introduction, too. The success of The First Fund lies in our ability to connect with deserving first grade students. You can nominate students at http://thefirstfund.org/nominate.
For every $1,000 that we raise, we can extend a scholarship to a deserving first grader in Indianapolis. Every dollar counts, and every dollar donated goes toward the cause. You can donate at http://j.mp/TFFdonate.