Toni Corinealdi, senior program manager at Neighborhood Allies, and Kimberly Hart, one of the winners. Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Allies.

Neighborhood Allies is investing in local children by giving them financial know-how.

The community development organization, which helps low-income people move up the socioeconomic ladder by connecting them to vetted resources, has teamed up with the youth savings program Fund My Future PGH.

Any adult age 18 years or older who resides in Pennsylvania and would like to save for a child from birth to age 18 can join Fund My Future PGH by taking the Savings Pledge and opening a long-term savings account online or at a local bank or credit union branch.

Participants will receive a raffle ticket each month and be eligible to win $8,000 in monthly prizes — including five $1,000 prizes and 60 $50 prizes — if they make a deposit of $1 or more into the child’s account.

There are more than 4,000 families in Allegheny County participating and another 2,000 households are expected to enroll this year.

Neighborhood Allies offers incentives, reminders and assistance to encourage people to make regular deposits and have financial conversations with their children. The idea is that kids’ confidence grows right along with their bank accounts.

The organization also offers a three-part Savings Series to the organizations and the families they serve. In these sessions, banking and credit union experts discuss how to open accounts and a representative from the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center addresses the importance of saving and provides insight about additional assistance available. Some partners offer participants $25 as a seed deposit to families to open their children’s accounts.

A 2017 study released by the Institute for Higher Education Policy and Prosperity Now highlights the positive impact that Children’s Savings Accounts have on low- and moderate-income families and college attainment. The accounts are proven to help families save for college and build students’ expectations for attendance because they have invested money intended for higher education. Families who save between $1 and $499 for post-secondary education plans have children three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate than those without any college savings.

“Bringing Fund My Future PGH under our umbrella, we are able to expand a program that directly impacts the lives and financial futures of Allegheny County’s youngest residents,” says Presley Gillespie, president of Neighborhood Allies. “Through our economic opportunity initiatives, we increase access to economic mobility and improve social equity of our families and build generational wealth to strengthen our community.”

For 30 years, Neighborhood Allies was known as the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development. In 2014, the nonprofit relaunched with a new name and a renewed commitment to improving the social and physical infrastructure of Pittsburgh’s distressed and transitional communities, with a particular focus on the neighborhoods of Homewood, the Hill District, Larimer, Hilltop and the municipalities of Millvale and Wilkinsburg.

Neighborhood Allies has been working with Fund My Future for the past four years, assisting Propel Schools with a county-wide expansion of the program in 2017. Now that the program is statewide, officials decided to bring the local effort in-house to join its two other initiatives focused on financial empowerment of adults: the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center, which provides one-on-one financial counseling at no cost; and Bank On Allegheny County, which connects unbanked and underbanked people with safe, affordable and accessible transaction accounts.

“The mission and work of Neighborhood Allies align perfectly with the work of Fund My Future PGH and we are excited to work together to give children a jumpstart on life, building their confidence and preparing them to reach their life goals,” says Toni Corinealdi, a senior program manager with Neighborhood Allies.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.