City Financial Literacy Programs Prepare Youth for the Future

Article excerpt

Events of the past year underscore the importance of financial literacy in helping families navigate complex credit options and securing the economic stability of neighborhoods, cities and the entire nation. In addition to taking steps to address the immediate crisis, cities are using financial education programs to ensure that the next generation is prepared to make informed financial decisions during their teen years and into adulthood.

For instance, Jackson, Miss., Mayor Frank Melton established a Mayor's Entrepreneurial Program as part of his Youth Initiative. This program offers at-risk young people ages 10 to 17 the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship and develop money management skills, while also being involved in community service, personal mentoring and life skills training.

The City of Boston's Office of Consumer Affairs has collaborated with the Mayor's Youth Council to produce Money TalkS: A Teen Consumer Guide, which informs teens about credit and debit cards, cell phone contracts, return policies and other topics to protect them from unfair business practices.

In Washington, D.C., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is working with an organization called Operation Hope to introduce the FDIC's new Money Smart for Young Adults curriculum into Washington, D.C., public schools next fall.

"This program will better prepare youth to participate intelligently in their financial futures," said Thomas Hampton, commissioner of the Washington, D.C., Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking.

National Problem, Local Solutions

Americans increasingly struggle with debt and the ability to save and build assets According to Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL), consumers charged $1.8 trillion to 691 million credit cards in 2005, and overall household credit card debt exceeded $825 billion. This trend of increasing credit card debt exacerbates the impact of skyrocketing foreclosure rates that have affected millions of families in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, highlighting the need for better consumer information and financial literacy.

These issues are gaining the attention of mayors across the nation, and cities are responding in part by helping educate residents about personal finance, credit and banking. …