San Francisco, CA - September 25, 2007 - Tackling head-on the problem of financial illiteracy among California teenagers, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, California State Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee, and San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia today joined San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Alex Smith and representatives from Visa at Phillip and Sala Burton High School to announce the statewide rollout of a new effort to improve the money management skills of California students. As part of this effort, Superintendent O'Connell and Chairwoman Yee are distributing to every high school in California, free copies of "Financial Football," an interactive money management video game with an NFL theme developed by Visa.
"Responsible money management is a critical part of surviving in today's world," O'Connell said. "The earlier we can make our students financially literate, the better off they will be in the future. I am so pleased that Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee, Visa, and the NFL share my concern about the financial futures of our students. They are leading partners in our effort to make free financial literacy tools available to schools, teachers, students, and their parents."
O'Connell announced a new link on the California Department of Education's Web site (http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/) where students, teachers, and parents can access free financial literacy learning tools offered by a variety of consumer organizations and financial institutions, including the "Financial Football" game. On this link the resources are sorted by age-appropriate grade spans.
"Financial Football" is the centerpiece of Visa's nationwide educational initiative with the NFL and PLAYERS INC designed to help 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.
"All high school students can reach their financial goals - whether it be saving for college, opening a business, starting a family, or planning for retirement - with smart planning and sound decisions," said Chairwoman Yee. "Financial Football is a practical, hands-on tool to help high school youth understand how to make money work for them as they embark on the road to financial success."
With help from Visa officials, Superintendent O'Connell, Chairwoman Yee, and Smith demonstrated the "Financial Football" game today with students attending a financial academy at Burton High School. Smith also shared his personal experiences on the importance of money management with players from Burton's football team and finance students.
"It is critical for high school students to know how to make smart money management decisions before heading off to college or entering the workforce," said Smith. "It takes the combined efforts of parents, teachers, and mentors within the community to help young adults develop and build strong financial muscles. I commend Superintendent O'Connell and Ms. Yee for making 'Financial Football' available throughout California."
Superintendent O'Connell and Chairwoman Yee hope "Financial Football" can help students jumpstart their interest in learning more about how to be a savvy money manager. O'Connell, Yee, and Visa jointly mailed a free CD of the Financial Football game to every high school in the state. In addition, the game can be played for free online at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/football. Mobile phone customers can play the game on their cell phones by texting the word VISA to 24421.
Since 2005, "Financial Football" has been downloaded and played more than 100,000 times and similarly rolled out statewide in West Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio, with additional states distributing it this fall.
"For over a decade Visa has been committed to promoting financial literacy, and we are proud to be assisting Superintendent O'Connell and Chairwoman Yee in their efforts to strengthen financial education efforts throughout California," said Jason Alderman, director of financial education for San Francisco-based Visa USA.
"Financial Football" puts students' fiscal knowledge to the test with a video game that combines the structure and rules of the NFL with financial education questions of varying difficulty. To score points, a player needs to answer various 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. The game content, developed with the cooperation of the NFL and its players, incorporates lessons taught through Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com), Visa's free, award-winning money management educational program that is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. The Web site 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 Web site 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 California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell
Jack O'Connell was elected to a second four-year term as State Superintendent of Public Instruction on June 6, 2006. As chief of California's public school system and leader of the California Department of Education, Superintendent O'Connell has focused on closing the achievement gap and preparing students for a rapidly changing global economy by holding high standards for all students. He is a strong supporter and facilitator of partnerships between schools, businesses, communities, and philanthropies in order to engage students with challenging, real-world education experiences. O'Connell has worked to smooth the transitions among all segments of education, from preschool to college or the workplace. As a former high school teacher and author of the legislation creating the California High School Exit Exam, he has led a comprehensive effort to increase rigor and improve student achievement in California schools.
About California State Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee
California State Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee represents more than 8.5 million Californians of the First Equalization District, which is comprised of 21 counties along California's North and Central Coast and includes the entire San Francisco Bay Area. She frequently sponsors tax seminars for the small business and non-profit communities as well as financial skills development conferences for women and youth. The five-member Board of Equalization hears and decides income and business tax and fee appeals. A native and resident of San Francisco, Yee has more than 20 years of experience in public finance.
About Visa USA
Visa USA is a leading payments brand and the nation's largest payments system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and business customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives tailored to meet their evolving needs. Visa USA is committed to increasing the choice, convenience, acceptance and security of Visa payments for all stakeholders - financial institutions, cardholders and merchants. As of March 31, 2007, in the United States, more than 521 million Visa-branded cards have been issued by more than 13,000 financial institution customers. Visa products generated $1.8 trillion in total volume in the United States during the four quarters ended March 31, 2007. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the globe. For more information, visit www.visa.com.