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Baby Bonds Aim to Close Racial Wealth Gap in MA


Tuesday, December 27, 2022   

A task force assembled by the state treasurer's office said investing in government-issued Baby Bonds could help close the racial wealth gap in the Commonwealth. Many communities of color have historically been excluded from opportunities to build wealth, forcing many children from low-income families to forgo educational opportunities in adulthood.

Leimary Llopiz, advocacy assistant at the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts, said creating trust accounts for newborns sets both the child and family on a path to success.

"People that we work with," she said. "They really don't have the income to even save money never mind thinking ahead of time of how they're going to be able to provide for their children when they get to a certain age."

A state task force advised an initial program with funding from the American Rescue Plan of $6,500 per child in an endowment that is invested and allowed to grow over time. Those funds would be made available when the child turns 18 and could be used for college, starting a business or even to purchase a home.

Massachusetts is an expensive place to live. A recent survey reported the poverty rate in the Commonwealth is higher than in twenty-one other states. A 2015 Federal Reserve study found that in the greater Boston area alone, the median
net worth for white households is nearly $250,000 while for Black households it's just $8. Llopiz said a state-wide Baby Bonds policy would help lift entire networks of low-income families out of poverty.

"In my culture, we are caregivers to our parents and grandparents so meaning once we start getting a job we're not only providing for helping our house now we're helping our family. We're helping their homes," she said.

Massachusetts would join Connecticut and the District of Columbia in establishing the baby bonds program, the cost of which depends on the number of children eligible for public assistance as well as children under 1-year-old in foster care.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley have also filed a bill to establish a national Baby Bonds program.

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The VOTES Act also ensures the Commonwealth joins the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, a multi-state consortium which aims to keep voter registration rolls up to date, encourage voter registration and prevent voter fraud. (Adobe Stock)

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