MORGAN COUNTY — Getting ready for a post-secondary education can be a daunting task.

Whether that education is in a traditional college, junior college or trade school, sometimes the process can take years of work.

A group of local residents and stakeholders have come together to create Promise Indiana Morgan County as a way to promote post-secondary education to local families.

Jan Maurer, county coordinator with the Promise Indiana program said that there are several components to Promise Indiana Morgan County.

One of those components is the creation of a CollegeChoice 529 account, which can grow without paying taxes and can pay for post-secondary educations and related costs like books at institutions throughout the world.

“The basic idea of that is giving hope to the children of Morgan County,” Maurer said.

She noted that children who have money in a 529 account are statistically more likely to participate in some form of post-secondary education.

“And specifically along those lines, if one has a 529 plan, they are three times more likely to go to college and four times likely to graduate from college,” Barbara B. Jordan YMCA Executive Director/CEO Dave Nash said.

The YMCA is the organization that brought local stakeholders together for a steering committee to help form Promise Indiana Morgan County.

The program will be available to all schools, public and private, in Morgan County with exception to Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corp., which is in Johnson County.

This spring, as kindergarten round-ups begin throughout the county, Maurer said that parents would be given information on Promise Indiana Morgan County.

If a parent of a Morgan County kindergartner signs up for a 529 plan and deposits $25, an additional $25 will be deposited through Promise Indiana Morgan County.

“It is this idea that the community is saying to these children, ‘We believe in you, we want to come along side you,’” Maurer said.

Nash said the focus of the program is to help local students understand what they want to do after high school.

“Part of that is through the 529 plan,” Nash said. “So, it is working with parents and grandparents to get that started.”

According to Nash, the Promise Indiana program started at the YMCA in Wabash County in collaboration with the schools in Wabash County and the Indiana 529 plan.

“There are several steps through the year that we will go through this this process,” Nash said.

The first step is to introduce parents to the program with subsequent steps taking place just before and throughout the school year.

Students will have an opportunity to visit a college so they can understand what a campus looks like.

During the college visit, Nash noted that children are matched up with a college student who that is majoring an area of interest that the child is thinking about pursuing.

That college student will serve as a guide for the child around the campus during the visit.

The Promise Indiana program is currently located in about 20 communities and counties throughout the state of Indiana, with more being added each year.

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