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Diapers to diplomas: Pennsylvania pilot program puts up $100 for newborn college accounts | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Diapers to diplomas: Pennsylvania pilot program puts up $100 for newborn college accounts

Three-day-old Peyton Moore slept peacefully in her mother’s arms Thursday in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, unaware that she received an edge on the future as one of the first recipients of the new Keystone Scholars program.

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, who launched the pilot program this year, was in town to greet the Moore family and promote the project that he hopes one day will automatically provide each child born or adopted in Pennsylvania with a $100 college savings account.

For now, the pilot program covers newborns in Westmoreland, Indiana, Delaware, Luzerne, Mifflin and Elk counties.

Peyton’s parents, Laura and Zachary Moore, of Rostraver, couldn’t be happier.

“It’s not something you think about when you have a baby, but it’s important,” Laura Moore said.

Peyton Olivia Moore, who weighed in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and was the 20th newborn enrolled in the program, slept unaware of a group of photographers, reporters and staffers accompanying Torsella who crowded into her room at the Family Additions Maternity Center.

She will go home soon to her 3-year-old twin sisters, Kennedy and Sydney, as the first family member to have a college fund. She will take home her first book and a pair of books for her sisters, courtesy of the hospital auxiliary’s “Books for Babies” program.

If past trends hold in Westmoreland County, which adds about 1,200 newborns a year, the Keystone Scholars program could provide a launching pad for as many as 2,500 children here over the next two years.

A bipartisan bill to extend the program statewide was referred this week to the House Finance Committee.

Torsella, a Philadelphia Democrat, campaigned on a pledge to launch such a program. He said the pilot, which carries an estimated price tag of $2.25 million, is funded entirely through charitable contributions. Underwriters include the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Foundation and the Neubauer Family Foundation.

The demonstration project also includes The National Philanthropic Trust and research support from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and Duke University’s Common Cents Lab.

Torsella said enrolling each of the 140,000 babies born in Pennsylvania could bear significant returns for the state, which lags behind competitor states in college attainment.

The initial deposit, which could grow to $400 by a child’s 21st birthday, could be tapped for college or career training until the holder turns 29.

Torsella said he hopes the state’s participation will boost financial literacy and spur more families to open college savings accounts.

“Research has shown that a baby with a higher education savings account at birth is three times more likely to pursue educational training after high school and four times more likely to graduate. There have been 18 million new jobs created since the end of the recession, and 95 percent of them require some for of post secondary education.” Torsella said. “But in the end, it’s about creating a culture of expectation around every kid to say to every kid, ‘You have a path forward.’”

Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Nevada have state programs.

“I’m hoping Pennsylvania will be the fifth,” Torsella said.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or [email protected] or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.


gtrBabyBonus002041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus003041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus001041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus002041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus003041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus001041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus002041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus003041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus001041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus002041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus003041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus001041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus002041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus003041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus001041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus002041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus003041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus001041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus002041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus003041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
gtrBabyBonus001041218
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, meets Lauren Moore, 32, and her husband Zachary, 39, of Rostraver, along with their three-day-old daughter Peyton, at Greensburg, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Peyton is the 20th child to be signed up for the Keystone Scholars program, which provides a $100 college scholarship to every child born or adopted in Westmoreland and five other counties in 2018 or 2019.
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