April 30 2007
Financial Literacy Now On the National Agenda
LOS ANGELES – April 30, 2007- A group of seven leading financial literacy experts, representing a variety of local, national and international organizations, met with President George W. Bush and key members of his Cabinet last week to discuss the need for action to improve financial literacy in America. The President’s meeting with financial literacy leaders, held during National Financial Literacy Month, represents the first time in U.S. history that a sitting President has called a meeting on financial literacy as a national priority in and for America.
“We thank and commend the President for personally taking leadership on this vitally important issue, and for calling for real actionable steps by his Administration in the weeks and months to come,” said John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE. “We stand ready to assist the Treasury Department and the White House in any way we can as they formulate the action plan that the President has asked for within the next couple of months.”
Joining Bryant were Theodore (Ted) Beck, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education (Greenwood Village, Colorado); David Chernow, president and CEO of JA Worldwide (Junior Achievement) (Colorado Springs, Colorado); the Reverend Dr. Robert V. Lee III, founder, chairman and CEO, FreshMinistries, Inc. (Jacksonville, Florida); David Mancl, president of the Wisconsin Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (Madison, Wisconsin); Harriet May, president and CEO, Government Employees Credit Union (El Paso, Texas); and Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation (San Francisco, California), for a private working meeting lasting more than an hour in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday, April 25th, 2007.
Roundtable participant Carrie Schwab Pomerantz said “the President has given a charge to his Cabinet to bring together the best that the federal government, the private sector, and community-based organizations have to offer, and to create real, practical financial education options and opportunities for American families. At Schwab, we agree that it’s important to bring as many resources together as possible to help people understand the basic principles of 21st century money management.”
Laura Levine, executive director of the national umbrella Jump$tart Coalition organization and speaking on behalf of her, David Mancl and all other Jump$tart Coalition organizations across the nation said, “Working together, we have the expertise, the resources, and the inspiration to address the need for financial literacy most effectively. While Jump$tart focuses on youth—on the next generation of consumers—the combined efforts of those involved in the President’s initiative will ensure that all Americans can receive the financial education they need and deserve.”
“Our nation’s collective financial illiteracy is a direct menace to the American Dream,” said David S. Chernow, President and CEO, JA Worldwide (Junior Achievement). “Educating Americans to become financially literate – to know how to manage the money they earn so as to avoid debt, bankruptcy and an uncertain financial life during retirement – is a matter of national urgency.”
"A national agenda crafted by many partners, with the support of the President, will reach more Americans more effectively than any one of us working alone. Now is the time to mobilize our collective knowledge to reach all Americans, especially those who are underserved," said Ted Beck of NEFE.
Speaking with regard to community outreach and faith work, the Rev. Dr. Robert V. Lee III said: “It is time for caring people and institutions everywhere to partner in eliminating the ravages of poverty. Working holistically to provide housing, health initiatives, proper education, and economic redevelopment, we can create the kind of assets in hard-hit communities that can level the playing field. Together we can, and must, raise-up a generation of children who have the opportunity to live healthy, happy, productive lives. If we can dream it and the Spirit of God is
in it…it can be done. Believe it!”
“Financial education is critical to the growth and prosperity of individuals and our nation. As a nation of communities, we should help educate all economic, ethnic and age groups about the basics of budgeting and managing their money to include the importance of saving and borrowing wisely. I am encouraged that the President of the United States has placed a high level of importance to financial education for adults and children to ensure individual success” said Harriet May of GECU.
The President was joined in the meeting by key members of his Cabinet, including Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Secretary of HUD Alphonso Jackson, U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who will chair the new Presidential initiative.