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Family Economics News - July/August 2008

The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) works with land-grant university partners and others to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities through national program leadership and Federal assistance. Among the Agency’s goals is to support increased economic opportunities and quality of life in rural areas. Family economics aligns with this goal by focusing on how individuals and families obtain and use resources such as money, time, human capital, material resources, and community services; by exploring the relationship between individuals and families and the larger economy; and by studying the impact of public issues, policies, and programs on family economic well-being.

Research/Program Evaluation

  • America Saves/America Saves Week Impact Report
  • Debtor Education Evaluation
  • Defining the “Rural” in Rural America


  • DOD Taps Extension for Financial Education
  • News about eXtension
  • Futuring for Families


  • Hispanic America Saves
  • Free Consumer Action Publications
  • Savings Needed for Health Care in Retirement
  • Consumer Information Catalog


  • Call for Papers:
    • Journal of Consumer Affairs
    • Journal of Personal Finance
    • Financial Counseling and Planning
    • The Journal of Youth Development
    • Journal of Family and Economic Issues 
    • 2008 Consumer Issues Conference
    • 2008 Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education Conference
    • 2009 Federal Reserve System Community Affairs Research Conference
  • Funding:
    • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Grant Program
    • FINRA Investor Education Foundation
    • National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®)
    • MMI Financial Education Foundation
    • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Foundation for Financial Literacy
    • Tax Counseling for the Elderly Grants



America Saves is an ongoing nationwide campaign to encourage savings by low- to moderate- income households. Cooperative Extension and other government, business, and non-profit groups offer America Saves locally.  A component of this ongoing America Saves campaign was the 2008 America Saves Week, February 24–March 2, when Americans were encouraged to assess their savings and participate in activities focused on savings needs, debt repayment, emergency savings, homeownership, education, and retirement. USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) is a national partner in this activity.

Through local efforts in 24 States, extension encouraged more than 7 million adults and youth to catch the savings habit during America Saves Week. Local efforts coordinate with the national launch of the new eXtension Web site, where savers can get unbiased answers to financial questions anytime. 

The America Saves/America Saves Week Impact Report highlights the successes of this effort.

As required by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, the Executive Office for United States Trustees (EOUST) issued its report to Congress on the evaluation of instructional classes in personal financial management for consumer bankruptcy debtors.  EOUST conducted a pilot study in six judicial districts and recruited three types of providers: academic providers of financial management education from CSREES to pilot test a curriculum and materials developed for the EOUST; the Trustees’ Education Network, an organization of Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustees; and a private, non-profit credit counseling agency. During the study enrollment period of April 1, 2006–December 31, 2006, 2,949 consumer bankruptcy debtors completed pre- and post-instruction questionnaires. Ninety-seven percent of the debtors in the pilot study expressed a high level of satisfaction. Almost 44 percent of the debtors in the pilot study reported their intention to change at least one financial practice. EOUST is the Washington, DC, office of the United States Trustee Program, the component of the Justice Department that protects the integrity of the bankruptcy system by overseeing case administration and litigating to enforce the bankruptcy laws.

A study reported in the Amber Waves Magazine shows the share of the U.S. population considered rural ranges from 17 to 49 percent depending on the definition used. Rural definitions can be based on administrative, land-use, or economic concepts, exhibiting considerable variation in socioeconomic characteristics and well-being of the measured population. For research projects and economic development programs, the appropriate definition of rural must align with the goals of the endeavor. 


Citing financial fitness as critical to troop readiness, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and CSREES are partnering to assess personal financial knowledge of new recruits. CSREES will work with North Carolina State University (NCSU) to implement and evaluate an online Personal Finance Assessment System. Project Director Carolyn Bird, extension specialist at NCSU and former U.S. Navy financial educator, said, "The system will be designed to test knowledge and point recruits to educational resources." Bird will work closely with the new DOD Office of Personal Finance and Transition. "Many personal finance learning tools are available, yet few connect specific personal finance competencies with appropriate learning tools," said Jane Schuchardt, CSREES national program leader and liaison to the project. "CSREES is pleased to partner with DOD and NCSU to assure this project meets the requirements for financial literacy set out by Congress and contributes to ensuring financial security for our service members and their families."

Financial Security for All extension Community of Practice (COP) members were among more than 160 attendees at the national COP meeting in Louisville, KY, June 24–27. Presentations included Personal Finance FAQs: Creation, Peer-Review, Maintenance, and Evaluation; Keys to COPs Member Engagement; Breaking into Moodle: Using Course Software to Create a Debtor Education Class; Increasing FSA Sustainability through the FINRA Online Investment Education Project for Farm Households; Building and Sustaining Strategic National Partnerships; and FAQ Follow-up. Visit the eXtension Web site for more information.

From an ecological or systems perspective, CSREES national program leaders (NPL) working in family and consumer science (FCS) disciplines place a high value on interdisciplinary FCS programming to address the many and complex problems that face the nation’s families. In July 2007, CSREES NPLs in Family Economics, Family Science, and Housing and Indoor Environments hosted a “Futuring for Families” think tank in Atlanta, GA. Graphic recordings and a brief article reflecting on the event are available at the CSREES Family Science Web site.


As part of its work to educate consumers on car purchasing and auto finance, Hispanic America Saves now offers a free set of educational materials that is available on its Web site. Hispanic America Saves, a project of America Saves and the Consumer Federation of America, is a national campaign to encourage individuals in Hispanic communities to save money and build wealth. These free materials contain information for consumers on whether to buy, how to buy, and how to finance cars; they are in English and Spanish and include a brochure, flyer, and poster. These materials were developed in conjunction with credit union partners, and can be co-branded by your organization or company and may be distributed electronically through e-mail or your Web site. Hard-copy materials are limited, so organizations may request up to 200 brochures, 200 flyers, and 50 posters. Contact Rose Garr at Consumer Federation of America to order materials or more information.

Consumer Action advances consumer rights, nationwide, by referring complaints, publishing educational materials in multiple languages, advocating for consumers in the media and before lawmakers, and comparing prices on credit cards, bank accounts, and long distance services.  Consumer Action distributes more than a million publications annually in five languages, making it possible to serve limited English-speaking populations in every state. Their publications are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other languages as well. One of its latest brochures is “Choosing a Wireless Service Provider.” Visit Consumer Action’s Web site to review this resource and others.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute provides estimates of how much savings are needed to cover health expenses in retirement, taking into account such major factors as gender, marital status, age, and whether your former employer provides any help with retiree health insurance. The full analysis is online in the May 2008 EBRI Issue Brief.  

The free summer 2008 edition of the Consumer Information Catalog is now available. Produced by the U.S. General Services Administration’s Federal Citizen Information Center quarterly, each edition features new consumer publications. Categories include living trusts, identity theft, insurance, banking, and more.


  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Grant Program. Contact Robin Taylor, senior tax analyst, for more information at 404-338-7174

  • is your source to find and apply for federal government grants. There are over 1,000 grant programs offered by all Federal grant making agencies.

  • FINRA Investor Education Foundation Grant Programs - The 2008 grant opportunities have been announced. Submission deadlines correspond to the announcement of grants in June, October, and December fo 2008.  Subscribe to the e-mail newsletter for periodic updates.  

  • National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE®) - The NEFE® Grants program deadline for April 2009 grant cycle is December 2, 2008. To learn more about the NEFE® Grants program visit the NEFE® Web site, and click on the Grantsmaking section. 

  • MMI Education Foundation - The foundation uses its resources to serve the public interest and strengthen the communities where we live and work. The foundation provides periodic announcements and grant guidelines. 

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Grantees provide financial literacy training to enable low-income individuals and families to achieve economic self-sufficiency. 

  • Foundation for Financial Literacy - The Foundation for Personal Literacy supports educational, charitable, and other organizations that use financial education to teach individuals how to convert earned income into passive and portfolio income.

  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly Grants (IRS)
    Grants to provide training and technical assistance to volunteers who provide free tax counseling and assistance to elderly individuals in the preparation of their federal income tax forms. Deadline August 2, 2008.



  • Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Assembly 2009, March 12–13, Washington, DC.

  • 2009 Federal Reserve System Community Affairs Research Conference, April 16–17, 2009, Washington, DC. Details pending.

  • 5th National Small Farm Conference, September 15-18, 2009, Springfield, IL. Contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, extension specialist for small farm and sustainable agriculture at University of Illinois Extension, for information.


  • CSREES Contact: Jane Schuchardt, National Program Leader, CSREES-USDA

  • eXtension (pronounced ee-eXtension) Financial Security for All provides reliable, research-based, and up-to-date financial and consumer information, including learning lessons, fact sheets, and unbiased peer-reviewed answers to frequently asked questions. Consumers can access eXtension 24/7/365 on any Internet-ready device.
    Contact: Debra Pankow, family economics specialist, North Dakota State University, or go to and click on Personal Finance.

  • National Initiative "Financial Security in Later Life" Contact: Nancy M. Porter, Family Resource Management Specialist, Clemson University

  • Financial Literacy for Youth Contact: Erica Tobe, Program Leader for Youth Financial Literacy, Michigan State University Extension

Back issues of Family Economics News
are available.

To submit items for consideration for this newsletter, contact Jim Terry, Program Analyst, CSREES-USDA.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on t05/05/2010, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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