Kickstart to Career: Barry Community Foundation

Written by Liv Hagerman, Events and Membership Associate

Children’s savings accounts are the buzz in the financial empowerment movement. Communities across Michigan are taking the steps to implement these programs to better prepare their youth for the future. Why?


The Barry Community Foundation, led by Executive Director Bonnie Gettys, is at the forefront of this movement. The team has been working with local school districts and the Hastings City Bank to launch the Kickstart to Career initiative.

Making a Difference In Barry County

Screen shot 2015-06-22 at 3.40.45 PMThe Barry Community Foundation is located in the heart of Hastings, a place where successful placemaking efforts offer an engaging and interactive environment where people can come together.

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 3.49.12 PM
Photo property of the City of Hastings. Find out more at

A complete downtown storefront devoid of vacancy offers a range of services, grocery and shopping opportunities. Rented sculptures full of colorful personality are placed as assets to the community, encouraging participation. The town square is charming and the downtown amphitheater and splash pad is inviting.

The Barry Community Foundation, a CEDAM member since 2012, has played an instrumental part in making this happen.

Active in a variety of CEDAM programs, they participate on the Michigan Rural Council Board and has presented at the Small Town & Rural Development Conference hosted annually by the Michigan Rural Council. The Barry Community Foundation understands the importance of remaining connected with both their communities and statewide networks to bring the best solutions and opportunities home.

Kickstart to Career – Pioneering CSAs in Michigan

Launch of the Lansing SAVE CSA program in January 2015.

Bonnie is now working with Megan Kursik, Michigan Communities for Financial Empowerment Coordinator at CEDAM, to create a county-wide Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program for Barry County.

Barry County is the first community in Michigan to create a universal, automatic, county-wide CSA program! (Lansing SAVE, the first universal, automatic, city-based CSA in MI launched in Lansing in January).

Kickstart to Career will open accounts in Winter 2016, and each year thereafter, for all Barry County kindergarteners, totaling about 800 students per year. The foundation was able to find a donor to fully endow the program to seed the accounts with $50 per a Kickstart Logochild.

The accounts grow as children and their family members contribute and through match incentives created by the foundation and other partners.

Kickstart to Career funds can be used for any post-secondary education program, not limited to college.

If the student decides not to further their education after high school, after they reach a certain age they can withdraw the money they personally put in. The money the foundation put in will be re-seeded to incoming kindergartners.

Accommodating a CSA

The Barry Community Foundation has been able to take the CSA model to such a large scale in their community because they were able to get the program endowed. Consideration to these key items can help make an endowment successful:

  • Provide a strong case statement
  • Information presentation – Concise, complete and professionally packaged
  • Capture a lot of data and use it to reinforce your message and your case
  • Pictures are key – allows potential donors to visualize
  • KNOW YOUR DONORS – customize your pitch to each donor’s wants and needs

To learn more about CSAs please visit the CSA page on CEDAM’s website.

Bringing a CSA to Your Community

financial-empowerment-Ad-social-mediaCEDAM will be hosting the Michigan Financial Empowerment Summit in August in Detroit. Bonnie Gettys will be presenting as well as keynote speaker Jose Cisneros, Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco. Jose created the first city/county-based CSA and will offer his insights to practitioners in Michigan.

Register for the summit before July 10 to take advantage of a buy one get one 50% off promotion. More details and registration is available here.