ServiceNet’s Gisenia Stewart to Join Baby Bonds Task Force
ServiceNet’s Diversity Coordinator, Gisenia Stewart, will join a group of experts, leaders, and community members to spearhead the Baby Bonds Task Force: a group charged by the State Treasurer, Office of Economic Empowerment, and Economic Empowerment Trust Fund to provide recommendations for creating a Baby Bonds initiative in Massachusetts.
Baby Bonds is an initiative that provides government-supported trust funds for children. When account holders reach adulthood, they can access their fund and spend it on assets that can grow over time or generate wealth (e.g., higher education, buying a home, starting a business, etc.). Studies show that Baby Bonds can help close the racial wealth gap.
The Task Force’s diverse cross-sectoral group includes people who have expertise and lived experience in racial wealth equity, community engagement, child welfare, and asset-growth initiatives. The Task Force will be chaired by former Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O’Brien.
“Baby Bonds has the potential to narrow the racial wealth gap and provide our youngest generation with a foundation for success in adulthood,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg. “Our task force members have multiple and diverse experiences in developing impactful programs that make a difference for Massachusetts residents of all backgrounds.”
Stewart noted that, outside of her work as Diversity Coordinator for ServiceNet, she is also a doula, an active member in her community, and a mother. “The work of the task force integrates my different interests and experiences in exciting ways,” she said. “I look forward to working with this incredible group to explore innovative strategies to potentially close the wealth gap between communities of color, distribute resources more equitably, and ensure collective community wellbeing.”
Several policy proposals on Baby Bonds have been introduced at the federal level, including Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s American Opportunity Accounts Act, which would establish federally funded savings accounts for all children in the United States. Multiple cities and states are exploring or have launched these wealth-generating programs, as well, including Washington, DC, and Connecticut.
Treasurer Goldberg created the Office of Economic Empowerment (OEE) with the goal of increasing financial stability for everyone in Massachusetts. The office works to promote programs that serve women, families, high school students, veterans, and seniors. Its initiatives focus on racial equity, closing the race and gender wage gap, increasing access to financial education, improving college affordability, and investing in STEM careers and education.