Sean and I spent a lot of hours in a car together this weekend which got us to talking. He mentioned something I had never heard of before, what his school called a Passkey account.
This is how it worked paraphrasing Sean. Each kid had a Passkey account, a savings account at school, which was for their college education. Once a week, they had to bring in some money from their parents to deposit into the account. The rich kids brough $5 or $10. Most kids brought $2 or $3. A few kids couldn't afford to bring any money in. "You didn't want to be the poor kid. Ever." The teacher recorded the amounts and deposited the money for the kids. Ideally at the end of their schooling, the kids would have some money (maybe a couple thousand) to at least start college with. The program died after a couple years.
I found this story fascinating. As someone who's worked in schools, I marveled at the amount of control teachers were given in that situation. (You can't even give some kids a B now without their parent(s) jumping down your throat.) Also the idea of saving money being part of pop culture I find so interesting.
A Google search on Passkey accounts came up with all kinds of irrelavent results online. A search for school savings accounts came up with a question at Wikianswers from someone wanting to know about a savings account at a grammar school in the 1930s. Had this been going on longer then the 1980s? Otherwise I've got nothing but a story from Sean and agreement from his brother.
The pros of the at school savings account are clear. Building a culture of saving for one. Sean said you had to bring some money in to look cool, though he did know some kids who would get $3 from their parents and deposit $2. And I'm all about reinforcing the idea of college at a young age.
But the big con far outweighs the pros. The poor kids got to be reminded every week that they were poor. Like Sean said, "They all knew they weren't going to college."
So how to build a culture of savings in schools? It's not clear to me, but maybe it is to you. Also, have you ever had one of these kind of accounts at your school? I'd love some more first hand info on this one.