Library awards college savings grants to summer readers
ELKTON — Eight county teens recently received a $250 college savings grant through the Cecil County Public Library’s summer reading program.
The reading program, which wrapped up last month, encouraged children, teens and adults to read regularly throughout the summer and then submit their reading logs for a chance to earn prizes. While all participants got smaller prizes such as ear buds and fidget spinners, they were also entered into a raffle to win one of the larger prizes available, which for the first time this year included $250 to start a 529 college savings account.
One teen from all seven branches plus the Bookmobile were chosen at random to win the college savings grant and on Thursday night, two of those teens formally accepted their prizes during an ice cream social reception at CCPL’s Elkton branch.
“I was so excited. This is my first scholarship,” said Geneva Brown, 16, who won the Chesapeake City branch prize.
The grants were provided courtesy of Maryland 529, a nonprofit state agency formerly known as the College Savings Plans of Maryland. The agency has worked with other library systems around the state to provide similar summer reading grants but this is the first year it has worked with CCPL. To claim their prize, all the winners have to do is fill out the proper forms and they will get a Maryland College Investment Plan account with $250 in it. The families can then add to if they wish or just sim- ply let it grow.
Unlike traditional savings accounts, these accounts have better tax benefits and can only be used for educational expenses, such as textbooks.
Brown, a junior at Bohemia Manor High School, said she was encouraged to participate in the summer reading program by the branch’s librarians and counts “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed as one of her favorite books she read this summer. In the future, she hopes to go to college and major in microbiology and now with her first scholarship, she’s excited to start exploring her options.
Ethan Lacher, 15, who won the prize from the Rising Sun branch, said he’s participated in the summer reading program for years but this is the first prize he’s won. Lacher said he was especially surprised to hear he’d won considering he turned his log in at the beginning of the summer and then forgot about it.
“I was kind of like ‘Oh,’” he said of his reaction. “I kind of forgot I did it (the summer reading program).”
Lacher, a junior at Rising Sun High School, hopes to eventually go to the University of Maryland to study human engineering.
Geneva Brown and Ethan Lacher were two of the eight winners of college savings grants through the Cecil County Public Library’s summer reading program.
Samantha Ball, who died from cancer in 2016, lives on in the Samm’s Lymphoma Fight Foundation. Ball, 23, is pictured here with her son Liam.