Low-Income Families Get a Helping Hand in Planning and Saving for Children's Education - OMEGA Foundation and Scotiabank launch SmartSAVER.org
The OMEGA Foundation today announced the launch of smartsaver.org, an innovative website designed to assist low income families to participate in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Sponsored by Scotiabank, www.smartsaver.org is a critical component of SmartSAVER, a multi-faceted community outreach program to increase low-income families' financial literacy and help them start saving for their children's higher education.
"Saving for a child's education not only helps to ensure that they'll have the funds to pursue their goals, it also encourages them from a younger age to view higher education as an achievable part of their future," said Martin P. Connell, Chairman of OMEGA. "The Government of Canada's RESP and Canada Learning Bond (CLB) programs help families to save for their children's education, but many low-income families don't know about and don't benefit from these useful financial tools. We thank Scotiabank for their partnership in the development of smartsaver.org, providing valuable information to help low-income families better access these important financial resources."
The consumer oriented website provides encouraging, accessible and practical how-to information in multiple languages in both text and video formats and connects families to RESP providers.
"Scotiabank is proud to partner with OMEGA to build financial literacy and help remove barriers to important financial resources for higher education," said Gillian Riley, Senior Vice President & Head, Retail Payments, Deposits and Lending, Scotiabank. "At Scotiabank we have a long tradition of supporting the communities in which we live and work and in helping Canadians become financially better off. Now, through www.smartsaver.org families have significantly increased access to important information and resources that can support their children's educational goals."
Dynamic and interactive, the website facilitates step-by-step actions to start building education savings. As it grows the site will host promotions, and a calendar for community events and RESP workshops. A planned chat room will enable parents to connect and share RESP tips and questions.
The OMEGA Foundation, which works to ensure that people have access to the financial tools that enable them to achieve self-sufficiency, identified in 2008 that the RESP and CLB were under-utilized but beneficial financial opportunities for low-income families. The CLB, a government RESP contribution of up to $2,000 for low-income children, has so far failed to reach 81% of eligible children: almost 900,000 children across Canada. Research by the Foundation revealed that language barriers and limited knowledge of financial products were two contributors to low awareness of and confusion about available financial resources for higher education.
The website will be available in 14 languages
About The OMEGA Foundation: Since its incorporation in 1992, OMEGA has developed innovative partnerships and strategies to better engage low-income people in financial systems that best meet their needs. OMEGA works as a catalyst for change and engages partners in research, model development, evaluation and continuous improvement geared to maximize effectiveness, sustainability and learning. Calmeadow, a pioneer in the field of micro-finance and OMEGA's largest project to date, designed and demonstrated Canada's original peer group lending programs with First Nations communities, rural entrepreneurs and urban micro-entrepreneurs.
About Scotiabank: Scotiabank is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work, both in Canada and abroad. Recognized as a leader internationally and among Canadian corporations for its charitable donations and philanthropic activities, in 2009 the Bank provided about $39 million in sponsorships and donations to a variety of projects and initiatives, primarily in the areas of healthcare, education, social services and arts and culture. Visit us at www.scotiabank.com
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