Dollar 4 Dollar IDA Program

Dollar 4 Dollar IDA Program


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



This program is fundamentally about financial literacy. We do not educate our children to

the level we should about the importance of money about where money is in this society.

We’re a capitalist society and so much of America is based on finances, dollars and sense



Dollar 4 Dollar IDA Program 

Promotes Financial Literacy

By Junious Ricardo Stanton


A unique partnership between the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution Sovereign and United Banks, the Philadelphia School District and State Senator Vincent Hughes has resulted in a dynamic new program designed to alter the way young people think about money, setting goals and savings. The Dollar 4 Dollar Youth Individual Development Account Program is a way for one hundred students of University City, West Philadelphia and Overbrook High Schools to have their personal savings, up to two thousand dollars, matched dollar for dollar by The West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution. 

Baronese Stokes the Program Manager for WPFSI conceived the Dollar 4 Dollar Youth IDA Program as a way to promote financial literacy, give high school students the experience of saving, learning about money, banking, how money impacts one’s goals and quality of life and to be rewarded for saving money by matching their savings in a special account that they will have access to upon completion of the two-year program. The Dollar 4 Dollar Youth IDA Program is the only program of its kind in Pennsylvania and one of the largest programs in the country. 

Ms Stokes a native of Kansas, has been in Philadelphia two years. She conceived the idea. “We’re the only Youth IDA Program in Pennsylvania but we’re one of nineteen in the country. I did about a year of research to identify the need in the community and see how we could pull it together. So far we’re the second largest one in the country. The partnership includes Sovereign Bank, United Bank, and the schools. Senator Hughes got involved because of his passion for the community as well as his representation on the state level. He’s actually here making the check presentation on behalf of the Department of Economic and Community Development. 

The Dollar 4 Dollar IDA Program is designed to be a challenging and fiscally rewarding program for high school students grades 9-12. The idea is to produce an asset or develop an asset whereby the young people save at least ten dollars a week and we match it dollar for dollar up to two thousand dollars and we give them two years to actually save. At the end of the savings period they actually withdraw the money, their savings in addition to our match and they purchase an asset and that asset can be related to post secondary education, career enhancement, or business ownership. 

“An asset is anything that generates money, an asset can be tuition for education, equity to go into a business or they can purchase a computer, books for school, or to go to trade school, uniforms, tools or instruments. Assets are things that help you generate money whatever they may be.” Explained Ms Stokes.

“Financial literacy is a major part of the program. In fact we hire counseling coaches from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business to teach financial education in the high schools twice each month. So the students are actually participating in financial literacy twice a month for ninety minutes per class every month. The criteria? We have some income guidelines but all we require is the students do two things, save a minimum of ten dollars each week in their account, and the other thing is to attend two financial education classes in their high school. Right now we have sixty four students and we have one hundred slots so we anticipate filling the remaining slots in the fall of next year. This is a labor intensive program. We provide one-on-one counseling to the students.”

WPFSI staff, board members, parents, school administrators and students from all three schools were present for the check presentation ceremony. Senator Vincent Hughes is a supporter of the program and presented a symbolic check for $219,000 to WPFSI and the Dollar 4 Dollar IDA Program. Hughes is ecstatic about the program and its implications for the community. 

“This program is fundamentally about financial literacy. We do not educate our children to the level we should about the importance of money about where money is in this society. We’re a capitalist society and so much of America is based on finances, dollars and sense, and unfortunately we spend too much time educating our children about how to spend money and consuming so that a dollar comes in one hand and goes out the other. This is a vehicle not only about helping some young people save some money but also educating them about the importance of saving and the power of saving, investing, compound interest and all the other things that go into a program like this. That’s why we’re supportive of it.”

Several of the students in attendance shared why they joined the program. Deshaun Sherrill (17), a student at University City High School, aspires to be an artist. He participates in the program because “I know I needed some extra money for books and stuff for college and I can use the money to achieve the goals I want for myself. This program is helping me to save money and having it matched is extra special.” 

LaJuan Tucker (17), a junior at Overbrook High School a straight “A” student shared, “I got in the program because I plan to attend Duke University in Durham North Carolina so I can have a cushion fund for when I get out of high school. I plan to get a scholarship so I’ll use the money for room and board.”

Rashedah Henderson (16), an “A” student attends Overbrook High School says, “I joined the program so I will be able to afford a laptop computer for college and books. I enjoy the program and all the meetings I attend.” 

Isabell Cornish (16) an honor student who attends University City High School stated, “I joined the program because I found it to be very interesting and wonderful that they’re giving youth a chance to save money and do something useful with it. My personal goal is to save up for college and buy something to help myself such as a lap top or books.” 

The Dollar 4 Dollar IDA Program is showing young people how their money can work for them

posted 6 May 2003

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update 21 December 2011




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