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CSREES Celebrates Financial Literacy Month in April

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188
April 16, 2008

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) will highlight its Financial Security program during the 2008 Financial Literacy Day, April 28, 2008, at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Financial Literacy Day is part of April Financial Literacy Month. Honorary co-hosts include Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Representatives Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) and Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas). A mix of government, non-profit and corporate organizations will showcase exhibits that promote financial literacy across the country. Other participating organizations include the Jump$tart Coalition, Junior Achievement Worldwide and the National Council on Economic Education.

On April 9th the Jump$tart Coalition released the results of the 2008 Survey of Personal Financial Literacy Among High School Students. Throughout April, CSREES will highlight the Cooperative Extension System's financial education work, featuring the personal finance portal on the eXtension Web site, at meetings of Jump$tart and the American Savings Education Council in Washington, DC.

Financial security is the cornerstone of prosperous communities, nurturing neighborhoods and strong families. However, many individuals and families are experiencing financial crisis because of inadequate savings, too much debt and poor planning for potential major life events. On average, U.S. households carry about $8,000 in credit card debt, up two-thirds compared to a decade ago. More than half of Americans report living paycheck to paycheck. Working through land-grant universities and other partners, CSREES helps people to acquire the knowledge, skills and motivation to build financial security. Programs focus on behavioral change, starting with achieving financial self-sufficiency, then stability.

Franklin E. Boteler, CSREES deputy administrator for economics and community systems and Jane Schuchardt, CSREES national program leader in financial security, represent USDA on the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC). The commission coordinates the financial education efforts of 20 federal agencies and bureaus, supports the promotion of financial literacy by the private sector and encourages the synchronization of efforts between public and private organizations.

The Land-Grant University System is represented by Tahira Hira, family economics professor and executive assistant to the president at Iowa State University, on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. President Bush formed the council on January 22, 2008.

"Both the FLEC and the President's Advisory Council show that issues of high debt, low savings and limited financial management knowledge and skills have gained attention at the highest levels of federal government," said Jane Schuchardt, CSREES national program leader for financial security. "Cooperative Extension programs, both face-to-face and online, help fill the growing need for financial education in the nation."

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.