MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN)- A new program will gift post-secondary savings to all graduating Marquette Area Public Schools (MAPS) students.

Marquette Area Public Schools Education Foundation has established a Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program called “1st to Finish” in an effort to combat the increasing student loan debt in Michigan.

“1st to Finish” is a universal, automatic, long-term savings account for MAPS students beginning in the first grade.

The foundation is working with local financial partners to provide every first grader a savings account in the student’s name. The account, however, will be owned by the foundation until the student graduates high school and requests the funds.

An initial deposit of 50 dollars will be put in the account as compound interest accrues by the financial partners over the years. The student, family members, and friends can contribute to the individual account.

The program is set to begin in January 2020. Meetings with first-grade families are also set to begin during that time.

The 225 first grade students will be from Sandy Knoll, Cherry Creek, Superior Hills, and Graveraet elementary schools.

Currently, three financial institutions are interested in being partners in this program. The names will be released later on.

Students will receive the funds if they graduate high school, and are doing something with that money that pertains to post-secondary education. This includes college, an apprenticeship program, or even starting a business.

The funds can be used to support tuition costs and fees, books, program expenses, start-up costs, equipment, etc.

The plan is to continue the CSA program with each school year, as new students enter the first grade in the fall.

Only a handful of these CSA programs exist throughout the state of Michigan.

These programs have proven to improve mental health, attendance, post-secondary completion, and the financial capability of families.

“We as a community felt that it was important to tell our students that we believe in them and that we are willing to support them. So, it’s about paying it forward and for many of us, it’s about giving back,” said Linda Winslow, president of MAPS Education Foundation.

The foundation has been acquiring and distributing funds to the students at Marquette Area Public Schools for about 27 years. These are through scholarships to graduating seniors and through grants to the school system.

The foundation wants to invest in children’s futures and encourage the community to grow.

Contributions can be sent to MAPS Ed Foundation at 1201 W. Fair Ave. Please include the “1st to Finish” in the memo line.

Any money donated directly to the “1st to Finish” program will be split between all the students’ accounts.

For further information, you can contact Tesse Sayen, Curriculum Support and Education Foundation Assistant, at (906) 225-5324 or