LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kindergartners and first graders at Portland Elementary School will benefit from a new program that will provide them with enough money over the next 12 years to attend some college or to get a professional certificate.

The Louisville Goes to College Program, announced Monday, will deposit $100 per year into a savings account in each kindergartner and first grader's name. This $100 deposit will be made each and every year for the next 12-13 years for the benefit of each student’s higher education.

“It is like adopting a class and following them for 12 years," said Gill Holland, a local developer who along with his wife, Augusta Brown Holland, created the program in partnership with Park Community Credit Union, the Jefferson County Public Education Fund and Portland Elementary. 

Holland says the investments will be paid directly to any institution of higher learning that a student who graduates high school (or gets a GED by the age of 24) requests. The fund will provide an additional $500.00 upon high school graduation or GED attainment.   

“Our hope is that the concept of this program will spread, and that once we have laid out the framework, it will be easy for other community members to be inspired to donate," he said.

Family and friends will also have an opportunity to co-invest funds in a student’s name. If the student’s family invests at least $100.00 per year, the Louisville Goes to College Fund (LGTC) will match that with an additional $100.00 per school year.  So each child can potentially bank $300 per year of school towards post high-school education.

"I strongly believe that there is no more important investment than investing in the future of the children of our community," said Brown Holland. 

The program was launched at Portland Elementary since 97 percent of its students qualify for free and reduced price lunch, only 28 percent of students were ready for kindergarten at the start of the 2015-16 year and only 29 percent of adults (25 years or older) in the Portland neighborhood have some college experience.

"With 5 kids, I don't have that kind of funds for all five to attend college," said Portland Elementary mother Jaquita Kimbley.

Jim Allen, president of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation, said his non-profit organization is "proud" to support initiatives like Louisville Goes to College.

"This will enable deserving students to have the opportunity to advance their education," Allen said.

Holland said if the annual investment of $100 is made on behalf of the student, "LGTC guarantees the student will have at least $5,000 upon high school graduation to help with future education."

Ultimately, Holland says he would like to see the program expand to more schools.

“Our hope is that the concept of this program will spread, and that once we have laid out the framework, it will be easy for other community members to be inspired to donate to the fund and provide this opportunity for more -- eventually all -- students throughout JCPS," he said.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also applauded the efforts of the program.

“The best investment a person can make is an investment in a child’s future," Fischer said in a statement. "That investment pays dividends not only for the student but for our city as a whole."


Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.