Canada Learning Bond
The existence of education savings in any amount improves high school graduation rates by 50%.
5 Easy Steps to FREE $2,000: Education Money for your kids!!
1. Your child is born on January 1, 2004 or later.
2. Family income was less than $41,000 a year (gross income) last year.
3. Your child must have a Social Insurance Number; it is FREE. Visit Service
Canada at 1 Agar Place and bring child’s original birth certificate.
4. You (the parent) will need to know your Social Insurance Number (SIN) too.
5. Go to your bank and ask to open a Canada Learning Bond (CBL). Bring an
additional piece of information such as Medicare card, major credit card, debit card, or provincial ID, or driver’s license (photo ID is best).
Starting in 2011 and lead by Vibrant Communities Saint John, a group of banks, government departments (School District 8,Health, Social Development, Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency),and community groups (United Way, Learning Exchange, Family Resource Centre, Y, Boys and Girls Club,Labour Council) have been working on ways to promote interest in the Canada Learning Bond (RESP).
The purpose is to plan ways to encourage more families to sign up for the Canada Learning Bond. We have worked closely with neighbourhood groups and Community Health Centre and individual schools to help us reach people. The community newspaper, Around the Block has been a helpful vehicle to reach groups, along with neighbourhood newsletters. Having a parent who has signed up for a Canada Learning Bond telling other parents, through Around the Block or in other venues is also helpful. In a couple of neighbourhoods we were able to hire a resident to help recruit parents.
Promotion and Events
A flyer on the Canada Learning Bond has been widely distributed including the schools and public health nurses and available in both languages. We have tried to make the flyer as friendly as possible. In addition, Banks have increased promotion of Canada Learning Bond, at times even offering a financial incentive for parents who registered for a Canada Learning Bond.
Last fall the partners organized a city wide Blitz at the Boys and Girls Club on a Saturday. The banks were present to sign individuals up immediately; each bank had one or two staff and sat at a table with enough room from other tables for confidentiality. Service Canada was also present as families who did not have a social insurance card for their children could sign up for one immediately with the proper identification (this was very effective!). Thirty-three children signed up over a five hour period.
The recommendation from the fall Blitz was to organize a shorter session with all the same partners (banks and Service Canada) and based in a neighbourhood, although anyone can come who is eligible. The Committee met with neighbourhood partners in Crescent Valley and a two hour event took place in March which was very successful with 18 children signed up over a two hour period.
The next neighbourhood was Lower West Side and the event was held again for two hours at the Carleton Community Centre. We picked a time that coincided with Family Resource Centre programming, Food Bank and health clinic. This is not an easy neighbourhood to encourage people to come out so we did have a challenge. However, we did not pick the heavy rains which made it difficult for families to come. Results were small, signing up four children.
We then worked in the South End with an Early Learning Centre which was located in a school, a Family Resource Centre located across the street and arranged to do it at the time parents would be picking up their children. The school had a small information night on kindergarten. Eight children were signed up and a number of parents agreed to get the needed documentation and go to their own bank.
Our goal for the year was to sign up 100 children. Promotion through the events encouraged others to sign up even if they did not come to the neighbourhood event. Through the Canada Education Savings Program of HRSDC, the statistics show that for our city in one year (November 2011 to November 2012) the numbers increased from 511 to 663 beneficiaries. However in 2012, the number of eligible children is 3,728 so we have a long way to go.
Role of Committee
The time commitment for the committee is reasonable; we meet to organize an event and then debrief. It is very encouraging to have all the banks represented and to have Service Canada’s participation.
· The promotional material must be simple. Community partners need to talk directly to their staff (who might be eligible) and to parents. Hiring a resident to recruit others can be effective.
· Many families think they need to contribute money and that it is not all free;
· Most impact occurs when there are other activities happening at the same time to reach parents;
· Some families are hesitant to sign up because either they never went to post-secondary or the cost of post-secondary is a significant barrier;
· There is limited awareness that post-secondary can also mean short term certificate courses, not only one to two to four year courses;
· Food, prizes and some form of childcare (even though parents need to only be there about 20 minutes) are always helpful.
Next event will be held at Centennial school in north end of City at end of March, hosted by the school.
Please share your experiences. Thanks, Cathy Wright