The sign welcoming motorists to the Portland neighborhood. | Courtesy Portland Investment Initiative
The sign welcoming motorists to the Portland neighborhood. | Courtesy Portland Investment Initiative

Portland Elementary’s 2016 kindergarten and first-grade classes will have funds to pay for some college or a professional certificate program when they graduate from high school thanks to a new initiative called Louisville Goes to College.

Spearheaded by entrepreneur and activist Gill Holland (who is running for Metro Council District 16 this year), the Louisville Goes to College Fund will deposit $100 per year into a savings account in each student’s name. This deposit will be made every year for the next 12-13 years for the benefit of each student’s higher education.

The program also allows families to co-invest and add to the savings account. If a family puts $100 in the child’s account in any given year, Louisville Goes to College will match that $100. So, potentially, a child could be saving $300 a year.

These funds will be applicable to any college, university, seminary, vocational college or certificate-giving professional school.

“Our hope is that the concept of this program will spread, and that once we have laid out the framework, it will be easy for other community members to be inspired to donate to JCPEF and provide this opportunity for more, eventually all, students throughout Jefferson County, especially starting with the 18 most challenged elementary schools in JCPS,” said Gill Holland in a news release. 

“It is like adopting a class and following them for 12 years!” Holland added. “We are launching LGTC at Portland Elementary since only four percent of kids are prepared for first grade upon arriving at Portland Elementary (that is tied for lowest in Jefferson County) and only two percent of adults in the historic Portland neighborhood have any college experience.” 

Mayor Greg Fischer said: “The best investment a person can make is an investment in a child’s future. That investment pays dividends not only for the student but for our city as a whole. I applaud the many community partners who are making the dream of a higher education a reality for deserving students”

The program has a wide array of sponsors, including the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation; Park Community Credit Union; Jefferson County Public Schools; and the Augusta Brown Holland Charitable Foundation. The following post-secondary institutions also are participating: University of Louisville, Bellarmine, Spalding, Ivy Tech, Purdue, and Jefferson Community and Technical College.

Dr. Joseph McGowan, late president of Bellarmine University, stated before his death that “LGTC clearly aligns with our mission and will undoubtedly inspire many disadvantaged young people to pursue higher education and make the world a better place, so we will commit a dollar for dollar match to any student who chooses Bellarmine.” 

Spalding University also committed to a dollar for dollar match. 

Other local colleges and institutions have also offered their support of the program and have shared McGowan’s conviction to make college affordable to students in the program.