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State CPA societies enthusiastically participate in Financial Literacy efforts.

State CPA societies jumped right into the profession's nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy initiative with their own supporting efforts. An unprecedented 81% of the societies have developed new programs or enhanced related efforts, and 87% publish the Institute's "Money Management" articles or use the public service announcements in their local media. Here are examples of what's happening in just some states around the country.

Alabama is exploring a partnership with the State Treasurer's Office, and partnered with a money management education television program to work with school systems to teach financial literacy in K-12 classes. On the day of the broadcast, CPAs manned an informational phone bank at the station. Information and links on financial literacy were posted on the station's Web site. The society also runs a speakers bureau.

California established a statewide Financial Literacy Committee consisting of members drawn from all 14 chapters. In terms of community outreach, CalCPA's Dollars and Sense program brings a panel of CPA experts to town hall meetings hosted by legislators or community groups to help improve the public's financial literacy. CalCPA also has formed a nonprofit foundation to promote financial literacy education statewide. Moreover, the state legislature adopted a resolution to declare Apr. 2005 Financial Literacy month. A Web site, publications, media relations outreach and a school-based program complete the picture.

Indiana created a Financial Literacy Project Team in which 14 organizations, including the Indiana Society of CPAs, came together to launch the Indiana Financial Literacy Coalition. The IFLC's mission is to "improve awareness of financial literacy throughout the population by facilitative personal financial education programs" in partnership with families, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, business organizations, trade and professional associations as well as the media. The society also conducted a Web-based survey to ask its members for feedback on the direction of financial literacy programs and the society's level of involvement, as well as seeking interested volunteers. Lastly, through a partnership/internship with Junior Achievementlast summer, the society created an accounting curriculum for JA's Exchange City program, which included items of financial literacy aimed at elementary and middle school students.

"Operation CPA" helps families of deployed soldiers in Montana. The society's program offers town hall meetings across the state, information packets that contain AICPA financial literacy brochures and a military-specific page on its Web site. The society has committed to at least two years of help to Montana troops and their families and will be expanding the project as needed.

New Jersey hosted a free women's financial planning workshop, entitled "Financially Fit?--Build Your Financial Future," which featured local experts who addressed women's financial, legal and other related issues. In addition, the state's acting governor proclaimed Jan. 2005 as Financial Literacy Month. The society also serves on the advisory board for William Patterson University's Financial Literacy Program. A special Web site features information for all financial planning life stages.

Teams focusing on brand management and member marketing from the society in New Mexico are beginning to hone in on financial literacy. Regarding media relations, the society is partnering with two local network-affiliated TV,stations to provide monthly presentations on financial literacy as well as place articles in various newspapers. It also hosts pertinent presentations to grade school, middle school and college level students.

In Texas, a Financial Literacy Week is being organized. The society's executive board passed a resolution and issued a white paper calling for reform of Social Security and Medicare. In addition, the society is advocating legislation that would mandate personal financial education as a condition of school accreditation and public high school graduation. Military outreach, media relations and a Web site also are a part of the society's financial literacy efforts.

Other innovative state efforts include publishing a financial fitness calendar, conferring public service awards to CPAs who advance the financial literacy of state residents, and sponsoring fund raisers that donate the proceeds to organizations providing financial resources to lower-income individuals. Additional programs are in development. For a comprehensive list of state activities, visit www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy.

To get involved in the national program, sign up on the volunteer database at https://volunteers.aicpa.org/financialliteracy. Registered CPAs are connected to their appropriate state societies and receive a quarterly financial literacy newsletter, exclusive access to toolkits for presentations, and invitations to educational teleconferences and events.

It All Adds Up

The 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy effort has drawn impressive numbers of visitors to both the CPA and consumer Web sites, as well as attracted significant attention through the media.

* The CPA Financial Literacy Resource Center (www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy) site ranks fourth under financial literacy on Google and ninth on Yahoo.

* Since its launch in Oct. 2004, the consumer Web site (www.360financialliteracy.org) has received pproximately 1 million hits by more than 30,000 unique visitors. It ranks number three on MSN Search under financial literacy.

*Exposure in the media has garnered 79 million reader, viewer and listener impressions.
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Publication:CPA Letter
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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