Sioux Falls, SD - February 24, 2009 - Tackling the problem of financial illiteracy among South Dakota teenagers head-on, South Dakota State Treasurer Vern Larson and Visa Inc. today announced the statewide rollout of an effort to improve the money management skills of high school students. Treasurer Larson will be distributing free copies of "Financial Football" - an interactive money management computer game with an NFL theme - to every high school and public library in South Dakota.
The centerpiece of Visa's nationwide educational initiative with the NFL and NFL PLAYERS, "Financial Football" helps students tackle their financial futures. This computer-based game is accompanied by a classroom curriculum and can also be downloaded for free on cell phones.
Treasurer Larson kicked off this new financial literacy campaign today at Washington High School with help from Visa officials and Minnesota Vikings Kicker Taylor Mehlhaff. Mehlhaff shared his personal experiences on the importance of money management with students from Washington High School. Treasurer Larson and Mehlhaff then rolled up their sleeves and led student teams in a lively game of "Financial Football."
"High school kids need to know how to make smart money management decisions before heading off to college or entering the workforce," said Taylor Mehlhaff. "It takes the combined efforts of parents, teachers and mentors within the community to give teenagers a strong background in personal finance."
"It doesn't matter if you are a professional athlete or a student with a part-time job, the same financial lessons apply," said Michael Mehlhaff, South Dakota chief deputy treasurer. "We hope by delivering money management lessons in a fun, competitive way that concepts like compound interest and percentage rates will stay with students throughout their lives."
Demonstrating broad-based support for having financial education begin at home and extend to the classroom, a recent study released by Visa shows 91% of consumers surveyed believe all high school students should take a financial education class before graduating.
Visa and Treasurer Larson hope "Financial Football" can help South Dakota teens do just that. Available online at www.southdakota.financialfootball.com, "Financial Football" puts students' fiscal knowledge to the test in an online simulation game environment by combining the structure and rules of the NFL with financial education questions of varying difficulty. To score points, a team needs to answer a series of money management questions correctly. Wrong answers and penalties can cost a team yardage. The team with the highest point total after four quarters wins the game.
Today's event is part of a national educational campaign with Visa, the NFL and NFL PLAYERS, now in its fourth season. Since 2006, Visa has reached agreements with twenty-two states to distribute "Financial Football" to every high school in those states, including South Dakota. The other states are West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, Hawaii and Arizona.
The online version of "Financial Football" has been downloaded more than 200,000 times and in 2007, "Financial Football" became a free, first-of-its-kind cell phone game. Mobile customers can play the game on their cell phones by texting the word VISA to 24421.
"For over a decade, Visa has been committed to promoting financial literacy and we are proud to have Taylor Mehlhaff with us as we assist Treasurer Larson in his efforts to strengthen financial education efforts throughout South Dakota," said Nancy Panter, manager of global public relations, Visa Inc.
"Financial Football" is part of Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com), a free, award-winning, teacher-tested and teacher-approved financial education program that is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. The program contains three comprehensive sections, complete with money management resources and lesson plans tailored for use at home, in the classroom or at work. It also contains an array of tips to help prepare for life changing financial events, from planning for a baby to saving for college and retirement, as well as a number of other budget calculators and interactive games. Visa also runs What's My Score (www.whatsmyscore.org), a leading higher education consumer awareness program. The website guides college students through the ABC's of a FICO credit score, from factors that can lower a score to ways on improving it, at no charge.
About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit usa.visa.com/about-visa/our_business.html.