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Contact Info 90 West Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215


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Council Makes Transformative Investment in Youth Seeking Higher Education

City’s “Earn to Learn” pilot program to offer 8:1 match on money APPS participants save for college


[COLUMBUS, OH] Columbus City Council is piloting an “Earn to Learn” program—an innovative scholarship program that helps eligible teens and young adults working in the Columbus Recreation and Parks APPS program prepare for college by providing $4,000 in matching funds to those who save $500 of their earnings.

“If you’re a young person in Columbus who wants a post-secondary education, you should never be deterred from your goals due to a fear of debt,” said President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown. “This pilot with our APPS youth will empower them to reach their goals. That’s a win for them and a win for us.”

The “Earn to Learn” pilot offers an individual development account (IDA) 8:1 match for post-secondary expenses after a minimum of six months in the program. It is a national model designed to make a transformative investment in the lives of teens and young adults who experience financial barriers to receiving post-secondary training. The twenty participants from the APPS program who receive matching funds for school will also receive financial education to help them develop good savings habits for the future.

“It costs more to earn a degree in Ohio than almost anywhere else in America,” said Council President Shannon Hardin. “We’ve got to look at every tool available to this community to ensure our residents, particularly young folks, have the opportunity to learn new skills and thrive in Columbus’ middle class.”

Eligible APPS participants can receive matching funds on every dollar up to $500 that they save from their paychecks. To be eligible, they must have a net worth less than $10,000 and meet federal poverty level guidelines. They are also required to participate in 10 sessions of financial education and attend an orientation session at their school of choice.

CME Federal Credit Union, a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution founded in 1935 by Columbus firefighters and now serves Central Ohio, has agreed to host the participants’ savings accounts and provide 25% of the matching funds, up to $20,000. Columbus City Council will provide the remaining 25% non-federal match, up to $20,000. In a partnership with the Ohio CDC and CME Federal Credit Union, Council will access federal funds through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the remaining 50% savings match, for a total investment of $80,000 in the program excluding the participants’ contributions.

“On behalf of CME Federal Credit Union, and over 35,000 members, we’re happy to support this program. CME is both honored and proud to be a partner in this effort to invest in post-secondary success and workforce development for these dedicated and committed young adults,” said CME President and CEO Jeff Carpenter. “Our chartered purpose of promoting thrift and being the credit union for Columbus City Employees makes this program a perfect investment for CME.”