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USDA Celebrates America Saves Week with Personal Financial Programs Offered Through State and Local Partnerships

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2011 – As part of a government-wide collaboration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is celebrating America Saves Week, Feb. 20-27, to help all individuals learn more about personal finance so they can help build a secure financial future for themselves and their families.

“The Cooperative Extension System (CES) helps families to learn from our consumer economics programs, which were designed specifically to help people living in rural and urban America manage their money,” said Roger Beachy, Director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). “In an increasingly complex financial system, programs like this help equip Americans with the information, education and tools to make smart financial choices.”

As part of the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC), the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences at NIFA partners with CES to deliver programming in local communities that focuses on five core areas: earning income, spending, saving and investing, borrowing and protecting finances. Understanding these five areas has a big impact on the nation’s financial stability, because financial literacy among individuals and families can dramatically affect the financial health of their local communities and regional markets.  Financial attitude, behavior and literacy start at home, where families communicate and make informed economic decisions based on their own values. Children learn these values, attitudes, behaviors and money management practices from their parents and forge spending and saving habits early in life that set them on a path of financial success or failure.

FLEC is comprised of 22 federal entities and is chaired by the U.S. Treasury Department.  One of FLEC’s primary responsibilities is to develop and promote financial literacy in the United States.  Along with the 22 federal partners, NIFA is engaged in implementing the 2011 National Strategy for Financial Literacy, which is designed to empower Americans to make wise decisions regarding their personal finances.

NIFA’s involvement will include recognizing the efforts of higher educational institutions that offer personal finance, consumer sciences and family resource management curriculum. CES provides personal financial programs and distributes educational materials to individuals and families.  These programs are led by extension specialists in the following areas: family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, agriculture and community development. Additional CES personal finance information is available on the eXtension website.

Congress established FLEC through passage of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003.  The 2011 Vision of the National Strategy for Financial Literacy seeks “to foster a culture in which households take periodic stock of their financial situations, individuals seek information and ask questions before entering into financial transactions, and everyone has the information and tools needed to help manage debt, save to meet their financial goals, and plan for secure financial futures.” 

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).