In August 2018 the Availa Kares College Savings Program was unveiled at a press conference held at the South Hamilton Elementary School in Jewell, Iowa. Availa Kares is the first county-wide program of its kind in the nation and will provide a 529 College Savings Plan for each student that completes Kindergarten at a Hamilton County school beginning with the 2018-2019 class.
The program is designed so that the student can earn incentives throughout their K-12 education at a Hamilton County school and, then upon graduation, the fund can be accessed to offset post-secondary educational expenses.
Availa Bank, based out of Carroll, Iowa, with two locations in Hamilton County, is the primary sponsor of the Availa Kares program and will initially fund each account with $75. The Hamilton County Supervisors approved to add an additional $25 to the program for each plan utilizing local option sales tax. Each 529 College Savings Fund will be opened with a balance of $100. Students that are enrolled in the program will then become a beneficiary of a 529 College Savings plan.
“Availa bank is a community bank, focused on the communities we serve," said Jeff Scharfenkamp, President and CEO of Availa Bank. “We work with main street business, we work with farmers, we make profits for share holders that in turn will fund causes like this."
“We are proud and pleased to sponsor a cause such as this one. We couldn't be more happier and hope it translates to more things," said Scharfenkamp.
Rick Young (President of the Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County) and Jeff Scharfenkamp (President & CEO of Availa Bank) with members of the FLCGHC Board and the Availa Foundation Board.