PROMOTING FINANCIAL LITERACY
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, in an April 23 speech to the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, underscored the need to promote financial literacy for America's young in primary and high school curriculums to "empower a nation of wealth accumulators." Banking regulators are also beginning to highlight this important theme. "Teaching children how to balance a checkbook should be part of teaching them how to add and subtract," said O'Neill.
O'Neill also announced the establishment of the Office of Financial Education to be headed by Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets Sheila Bair. The new Treasury office will develop and implement financial education policy initiatives and will oversee and coordinate outreach efforts.
O'Neill specifically touted "Bank on Your Schools," a partnership between school and financial institutions. "This initiative will encourage financial institutions to open student-run branches in high schools, or give students a chance to work in the institutions themselves," O'Neill said. Treasury policy- level officials have met with financial trade associations, including the ICBA, to discuss the implementation of this initiative.
Secretary O'Neill stated, "We are going to set our goals high… . We are not going to settle for a passing grade on this assignment-we want an 'A'." ICBA understands that President Bush is personally interested in promoting financial literacy and reaching out to the unbanked.