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Porter County baby is first to get free $100

Article written by: Doug Ross, Northwest Indiana Times | Jan 24, 2023

HEBRON — Kylie Shurr was just born Jan. 2 but already has a $100 head start toward her college expenses, thanks to the new Seeds of Promise program administered by the Porter County Community Foundation.

Kylie Shurr, the first Seeds of Promise baby in Porter County, receives a very large check for her future education beyond high school from Bill Higbie, President & CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation.

Kylie’s father, Jon Shurr, found out about the program by reading a brochure at Northwest Health Porter, the hospital where Kylie was born.

“It didn’t seem like there was any downside to it,” he said, so he immediately registered her. “It will give her an opportunity for her education when she decides to further it.”

The application process is simple. “It took two to three minutes at most,” Jon said.

Phot by: Doug Ross, NWI Times

All it needed was basic information like name, address, date of birth and contact information.

About 20 to 30 minutes after Jon finished the online form, he got a phone call letting him and his wife, Kait Shurr, know that Kylie was the first baby registered under the program that began Jan. 1.

Foundation President and CEO Bill Higbie said he had hoped the children could be automatically enrolled, as is the case in some other communities across the nation, but Indiana law prohibits the health department from sharing any information about a birth without parental permission.

“The best practice is that it automatically happens,” Higbie said. “It’s somewhat disappointing. The easier you make it, the more participation you have.”

This is the first program of its kind in Indiana, Higbie believes.

The $100 is put into a 529 college savings plan administered by the foundation until the parents open their own account in the child’s name. The invested money will grow in value as the child grows up.

Parents are urged to contribute their own money toward their child’s future. The original $100 could grow to an estimated $500, depending on a lot of variables. That’s a guesstimate, not a guarantee, Higbie stressed.

Other than registration, the only requirement is that the baby be born to Porter County moms. Where the child is born doesn’t matter. A baby born in Porter County to a mom who lives outside the county doesn’t qualify.

Kylie’s siblings don’t qualify, either. The program began after they were born. Nor is there likely to be a younger brother or sister.

“She completes our family,” Kait said. “We have a boy and a girl, so she was the tiebreaker.”

“They love her and want to hold her all day and kiss her,” Kait said.

“She’s very calm, very laid back and very easygoing,” Kait said. “We’ve gotten lots of smiles.”

“She knows she’s got this savings account now,” Higbie said.

The money can be used for just about any educational purpose, including buying a computer for coursework,” he said.

Money for the program comes from a portion of the $12.5 million bequest by Bill Jewell. He had set aside more money than needed for scholarships to the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington, so giving $100 to each Porter County baby born after Jan. 1 became possible.

A similar program, through the Indiana Youth Institute, puts $25 into a 529 account for kindergartners or first-graders, Higbie said.

Families of Porter County infants have until the child’s first birthday to register. Information is available at firstthingspc.org/savings.

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