FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April is Financial Literacy Month
Washington, D.C. (April 22, 2004) - Financial Literacy will be prominent in Washington, D.C. today as many organizations recognize Financial Literacy Day. With over 26 million people in the United States currently without checking accounts, savings accounts, or credit cards, financial education has never been more important. Today's "unbanked" Americans may never realize the dream of home-ownership, build credit, or reach their financial goals without adequate financial education.
Community banks across the country constantly strive to improve the financial empowerment of people in their local areas. "My First Million Program," by Blue Ridge Bank & Trust in Kansas City, Mo., is just one example of financial literacy programs offered by the nation's community banks. The program teaches the history of money, the role of banks, and the importance of saving. Students are encouraged to set "savings goals," and the bank contributes to each student's opening balance when they establish an account.
"We can never start too early in giving our youth the skills and confidence they need to succeed," said Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of Independent Community Bankers of America. High school seniors who recently participated in the JumpStart survey on financial literacy answered less than 53 percent of the questions correctly. "Providing young adults with the most basic financial coaching can dramatically improve their lives as they prepare to enter the real world," Fine added. Fine recently visited with students at a local school to talk with them about their finances, and the importance of saving and maintaining good credit.
ICBA has aligned with Operation HOPE and FDIC to assist in promoting financial literacy, and has committed to making financial education a top priority. With credit available to teens at increasingly younger ages, financial literacy needs to be a core part of every young person's education.