Des Moines, Iowa - January 26, 2010 - Tackling the problem of financial illiteracy among Iowa teenagers head-on, State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and Visa Inc., with help from former Iowa State and current Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Seneca Wallace, today announced the statewide rollout of an effort to improve the money management skills of high school students. Treasurer Fitzgerald will be distributing free copies of "Financial Football" - an interactive money management video game with an NFL theme - to every high school in Iowa.
Treasurer Fitzgerald kicked off this new financial literacy campaign today at East High School with help from Visa officials and Seneca Wallace. Wallace shared his personal experiences on the importance of money management with students from East High School. Treasurer Fitzgerald and Wallace then rolled up their sleeves and led student teams in a lively game of "Financial Football."
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. As part of this initiative, Visa Inc. has also donated a new mobile computer lab to East High School. The 10 Apple MacBooks being given to the school are laptops, which allow students and teachers to use them throughout the school.
"Financial Football is a great way to get students interested in personal finances and give them a financial playbook they can use the rest of their lives. This is a valuable program and a great partnership between my office, Visa and the NFL," said Treasurer Fitzgerald.
"High school kids need to know how to make smart money management decisions before heading off to college or entering the workforce," said Wallace. "It takes the combined efforts of parents, teachers and mentors within the community to give teenagers a strong background in personal finance."
Demonstrating broad-based support for having financial education begin at home and extend to the classroom, a recent study released by Visa shows 91 percent of consumers surveyed believe all high school students should take a financial education class before graduating.
Visa and Treasurer Fitzgerald hope "Financial Football" can help Iowa teens do just that. Available online at www.iowa.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.
This launch is part of a national educational campaign with Visa, the NFL and NFL PLAYERS, now in its fifth season. Since 2006, Visa has reached agreements with twenty-five states to distribute "Financial Football" to every high school in those states, including Iowa. The other states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
"For over a decade, Visa has been committed to promoting financial literacy and we are proud to assist Treasurer Fitzgerald in his efforts to strengthen financial education throughout Iowa," said Jason Alderman, Director of Financial Education, 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 is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks--VisaNet--that is capable of handling more than 10,000 transactions a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit usa.visa.com/about-visa/our_business.html.
About Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald
The State Treasurer's Office has a proven record of providing sound financial management to the citizens of Iowa and currently invests over two billion dollars in state operating funds. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is the administrator of College Savings Iowa, which offers families an easy, tax-advantaged way to save for college. He has returned over $110 million in unclaimed property to its rightful owners through the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. In addition, he has initiated several financial literacy programs within his office to provide Iowans with unbiased financial information to empower them and improve their lives. Visit www.treasurer.state.ia.us for more information.