HCN News & Notes

ServiceNet’s Gisenia Stewart to Join Baby Bonds Task Force

NORTHAMPTON — 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-sector 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 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. 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 well-being.”

Several policy proposals on Baby Bonds have been introduced at the federal level, including Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s American Opportunity Accounts Act, which would establish federally funded savings accounts for all children in the U.S. Multiple cities and states are exploring or have launched these wealth-generating programs as well, including Washington, D.C. and Connecticut.