Message from the Chairman
Ever since the FDIC introduced the Money Smart financial education program in 2001, our primary goal has been to help low-income people, new immigrants and other adults enhance their money management skills and become financially self-sufficient. It’s becoming clear, though, that a number of our innovative partners are using Money Smart’s lessons and messages -- on such topics as the importance of saving money, spending wisely and building a good credit record – to educate another very important segment of our society, America’s youth.
We’re proud to say that Money Smart is being used with great success in middle schools, high schools and colleges around the country. I have also been told that young people, especially those from immigrant households, are using their new financial skills to help their parents become better money managers or apply for home loans. But we also know there’s much more that everyone -- including parents, educators, banks, community organizations and government officials -- can do to help young people develop solid money-management skills.
Consider a recent survey of more than 4,000 high school seniors in 33 states conducted for the Jump$tart Coalition® for Personal Financial Literacy (of which the FDIC is a partner), the fourth in a series dating back to 1997. This latest survey found modest gains in students’ knowledge of finance basics but it still showed that 65.5 percent of the students failed the exam and only 6.1 percent scored a C or better. Given that many adults are saving too little money or paying a high interest rate to borrow money because of bad marks on their credit record, it’s essential that the next generation of consumers be better prepared to make the right decisions…right from the start.
In the accompanying pages of Money Smart News you can read about accomplishments, anecdotes, suggested do’s and don’ts, and other practical information from educators, including bankers, who have been using the FDIC curriculum with youth. Among them is a banker whose full-time job is to teach Money Smart classes in local high schools. This issue also features the latest on the new computer-based version of Money Smart, which offers tremendous potential to teach young people in the classroom, at home or practically anywhere else, and information about FDIC Consumer News, a quarterly publication we produce and believe that educators and adults, young and old, will find useful.
At the FDIC, we know that investing in financial education is an investment in the future of our country. I’m glad that a number of Money Smart partners are finding creative ways to put our financial literacy program to good use in other ways.