Smart Start award provides more than $26,000 in college savings to former foster children
State Treasurer John Perdue’s office, Mission West Virginia and associated partners presented $26,4000 in college savings funds to children adopted from foster care in West Virginia, during the SMART529 Smart Start award luncheon today at the Clay Center in Charleston.
The SMART529 Smart Start college savings award is a direct result of the 2019 SMART5.29K Walk/Run, an annual event that raises money to establish SMART529 accounts for children adopted from foster care. Mission West Virginia’s FrameWorks program establishes criteria for the awards and selects recipients through an application process.
A total of 22 children received the award this year with several families attending the Charleston awards ceremony. Recipients are from all over the state, including Wheeling, Bluefield and Martinsburg. All are former foster children adopted by host parents.
Each child receives $1,200 in SMART529 savings. This year’s event brings the total to 70 children awarded a total of $84,000 in scholarship money since the event was established five years ago.
“Every year I am grateful to present these awards to deserving families,” Treasurer Perdue said. “This effort is dear to me because my wife is adopted and I know the challenges children adopted from foster care face. I’m excited for these children and their families.”
During Friday’s ceremony at the Clay Center in Charleston, families received their awards, enjoyed lunch and ice cream, and spent time in the Clay Center’s Avampato Discovery Museum.
Mission West Virginia is the primary partner for the SMART529K and Smart Start event. Several other child welfare organizations in the state participate in the effort including Braley & Thompson, Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, KVC, NECCO and Pressley Ridge.
SMART529 is West Virginia’s officially sanctioned college savings plan. It allows families to invest money, tax deferred, from birth to adulthood. For more information visit SMART529.com or WVTreasury.com.