Foxborough, MA - December 11, 2007 - Tackling the problem of financial illiteracy among New England teenagers head-on, Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill, Rhode Island State Treasurer Frank Caprio, New Hampshire State Treasurer Catherine Provencher, Vermont State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding, Connecticut State Assistant Treasurer Meredith Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Education for the United States Department of Treasury Dan Iannicola, the Jump$tart Coalition and Visa today announced the region-wide rollout of an effort to improve the money management skills of New England high school students. In addition, the Treasurers will also be distributing free copies of "Financial Football" - an interactive, NFL-themed, money management video game - to every high school in their respective states.
The Treasurers and officials, gathering together for the first time to advance financial literacy, kicked off the new education campaign at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough with help from directors from Visa, the Jump$tart Coalition and Wide Receiver Wes Welker and Center Dan Koppen of the New England Patriots. Welker and Koppen shared their personal experiences on the importance of money management with students from the following locations: Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts; Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Hall High School in West Hartford, Connecticut; Conrad High School in West Hartford, Connecticut; U-32 High School in East Montpelier, Vermont; Inter-Lakes High School in Meredith, New Hampshire; and Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, Maine. The students then divided into teams and played each other in a lively game of "Financial Football."
"Helping students build strong financial muscles at an early age will give them a real advantage when it comes to planning for their financial futures," Welker said to the group of students gathered in the Patriots visitor locker room. "Managing money and finances is a vital life skill, and one that is best taught, and learned, before high school graduation."
"I'm glad for the opportunity to teach New England students the importance of developing sound money-management skills early in life," Koppen added. "It doesn't matter whether you make $1 or $1 million, if you don't learn to budget, save, invest and pay your bills on time, the personal and national economic consequences can be devastating."
Demonstrating broad-based support for having financial education begin at home and extend to the classroom, a new study released by Visa USA shows 91% of consumers surveyed believe all high school students should take a financial education class before graduating.
Visa, Jump$tart and the State Treasurers hope "Financial Football" can help New England teens do just that. "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 the twelfth stop of this year's national educational campaign with Visa, the NFL and PLAYERS INC. The "Financial Football" game, which is accompanied by a classroom curriculum, has already been rolled out statewide in West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin and Nevada.
Since 2005, "Financial Football" has been scoring points with parents, teachers and teenagers as a computer game that has already been downloaded and played over 100,000 times for free at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/football. Earlier this year, "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.
"The 'Financial Football' Program is a great example of how financial services companies can help the national effort to advance financial literacy for young people," said Dan Iannicola, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Education, United States Department of Treasury. "Additionally, I want to commend the State Treasurers of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont along with the NFL for their effort in making financial lessons relevant and engaging to students across New England."
"For over a decade, Visa has been committed to promoting financial literacy and we are proud to be assisting the State Treasurers of New England in their efforts to strengthen financial education," said Jason Alderman, Director of Financial Education for Visa Inc.
"These officials demonstrate the value of supporting our volunteer, New England state coalitions whose respective singular mission is to improve the personal financial literacy of kids in their states," said Daniel Hebert, Northeast Regional Director, Jump$tart Coalition. "Visa should also be applauded for taking a leadership role in youth financial education. 'Financial Football' is helping parents and educators make financial topics fun and interesting for high school students and we are proud to include them as one of our national partners in our mission."
"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 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 www.visa.com.