In an American economy where three-fourths of working adults are living paycheck to paycheck
, American households sometimes have to forego planning for the future in lieu of putting food on the table. In low-income neighborhoods, this means necessities like food, shelter, and clothing will trump secondary needs like life insurance or college savings.
LifeBridge, offered by MassMutual, is easing parent's minds on at least one front —guaranteeing their kids still have a shot at a quality education should something happen to them.
LifeBridge does not insure the life of the deceased but the future education of the children. The policy puts $50,000 in a trust to pay for the surviving children's education. In the event that a parent has more than one eligible child, the benefit will be split equally among the children.
The policies are completely free for eligible participants. Following their parent’s death, the children have 10 years or until their 35th birthday to use their trust.
In communities like Frayser, which has a college graduation rate of less than 5%
and poverty rate greater than 40%,
LifeBridge offers families the opportunity to improve upon those statistics.
Candice Lewis is a Frayser resident. She signed up for LifeBridge at the Frayser branch of the Memphis Public Libraries and said registering was “a no-brainer.”
“If I die, I have life insurance, but it pretty much covers paying off the house. If I could ensure my son gets some help with his education, I couldn’t pass that up. I pray he doesn’t have any student loans,” Lewis said.
Frayser library staffers Nakia Armstrong (R) and Monique Rials on National Wear Red for Heart Disease day. The staff tied the importance of LifeBridge to heart disease awareness. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. (Monique Rials)
The money can be used for tuition, fees, books, room and board, and other expenses.
And it's not just for college. Preschools, private K-12 schools, trade schools and colleges and universities are all eligible expenses.
Parents who wish to sign up do have to be employed and make between $10,000 and $40,000 annually. The minimum wage requirement is attainable with a job that pays minimum wage working just 30 hours a week.
“The LifeBridge program is a way for MassMutual to bridge the gap between the financial realities of hard-working Americans and their desire for a better life for their children through the financial protection of their education,” said a spokesperson for MassMutual.
Parents must also be found to be in good health, as determined by Mass Mutual's underwriting guidelines.
Nakia Armstrong, the agency manager of the Frayser Library, promotes LifeBridge by keeping applications available at the circulation desk. Armstrong feels that it is especially important for Frayser residents to be aware of the benefits of programs like this.
“When I heard about LifeBridge, I was blown away. Frayser has a lot of residents that qualify for this program. We want to make sure as many of them as possible are made aware of the benefits of this policy,” said Armstrong.
Staff members with the Frayser Library use any event or activity at the library as an opportunity to tell Frayser residents about the program and hand out applications. They also take applications with them to hand out when doing outreach at various schools in the area.
The Frayser Library began their LifeBridge outreach work in October 2019. Armstrong said the staff handed out around two dozen applications from October through December.
Applications can be found online at massmutual.com
or pick up an application at your next visit to the Frayser Library.
Author Monique Rials is a High Ground News Community Correspondent.. Correspondents complete a six-week training and mentorship program to become neighborhood-based reporters. Correspondents live in underserved communities and hope to correct negative neighborhood narratives by diving into the nuances underlying big challenges and solutions. This is Rials' first published story with High Ground News.