As a family, you know you need to save for college costs, and we applaud those of you who may have already begun to save through the SeedMA program or on your own. Whether you’ve started a college savings account or not, you may need encouragement (and possibly some assistance) to keep focused on your college savings goal. And that’s why MEFA is here.
We pride ourselves on serving Massachusetts as a knowledgeable, trusted resource that helps students and families plan, save, and pay for college. And rather than relying on families like you to find us, we go out into the community to offer guidance, motivate students and parents, and share important information on college planning.
Our U.Fund Dreams Tour is one of our most popular community events, taking center stage during the early summer months into late fall, when parents and kids are out and about taking in the New England seasons and all that Massachusetts has to offer. The U.Fund Dreams Tour is our way of creating an impactful impression with families that engages not only the parent but also the child. At our Dreams Tour events, we provide materials to help young children dream about future careers and aspirations, while educating parents with straightforward and digestible information about saving for college.
Here are some of the elements of the tour that have made it a wonderful, engaging success:
- A convenient presence: We know that summer time is the season for local races, concerts, and large family festivals that will bring kids, parents, and loved ones together to have a fun day. We set up a booth at these events to create a convenient opportunity for families to chat with us for a few minutes and take home some important information.
- An inviting area: Our inviting, interactive booth with fun, approachable people gets families engaged in the topic of college planning. We work with our extended college savings team and partners to create an experience that both invites and engages parents and kids so that they can have a memory of meeting us and remember the college savings conversation.
- Helpful materials: We have a staffed welcome desk with a knowledgeable 529 college savings plan representative who answers parents’ questions and provides printed materials to reference later on. We also distribute dry-erase board and pen sets shaped like clouds to remind kids of the event and some of the elements they experience while there.
- Interactive, tactile games: While visiting the Dreams Tour, smaller children can play our sheep launcher game, tossing stuffed, Velcro sheep toward a bright moon (a foot or two away). The act keeps them laughing, while also encouraging them to aim for the stars as they dream about the future.
- Use of technology: We know that most everyone consistently uses their phone and tablets throughout the day. With that said, we provide onsite iPad stations where parents can play the digital sheep slinger game. Parents indicate how much they’re currently saving for college, and then launch their sheep to the moon to find out how close they’ll come to saving for college’s full future cost. This game is live on the U.Fund page, which we encourage families to visit even after they leave the Dreams Tour.
- Shareable news: In today’s world of social media, we give parents something to brag about. We have an animated station where children and parents may take a series of photos doing funny things and making silly faces. Families leave with a printout of their animated photo and can also choose to have the animated photo emailed to them to then post to their social media profiles in order to show friends and family that they are focused on planning for college.
We believe that by inspiring families to plan and save for college during community events, we have made an impact with the U.Fund Dreams Tour. We encourage you to visit our events page on mefa.org and find a Dreams Tour event near you. There, you can meet friendly representatives to help you make a plan to save for college, and to answer any of your questions about 529 college savings plan plans. You’ll have fun with your child while helping him or her dream about and prepare for the future.