Courtesy of Citizen Corps, www.citizencorps.gov

In light of the national economic situation and in preparation for April as National Financial Literacy Month, the National Office of Citizen Corps is highlighting the efforts of organizations who are leading the way in promoting pre-disaster financial preparedness and in increasing financial literacy across the country. We encourage all Citizen Corps Councils and partners to learn more about how they can get involved in local financial literacy efforts and to reach out to citizens with the valuable information outlined below.

Operation Hope, a National Citizen Corps Affiliate and America's leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization, has developed a number of initiatives to provide financial literacy, financial preparedness, and financial emergency support. HOPE Coalition America provides free pre-disaster financial preparedness seminars and foreclosure prevention workshops for both individuals and organizations and provides financial experts to assist communities after a disaster strikes. The Mortgage Hope Crisis Hotline provides free services to assist individuals that need answers and guidance on how to resolve mortgage loan payment issues. Information and resources, including the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) and the Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide (PDPG), are available at www.operationhope.org/.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks are sponsoring Go Direct, a campaign to motivate people who receive federal benefit checks to sign up for direct deposit. For those who depend on the mail for their Social Security benefits, a difficult situation can become worse if they are evacuated or lose their mail service – as 85,000 check recipients learned after Hurricane Katrina, and thousands more learned in 2008 during Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike. Switching to electronic payment is one simple, significant way people can protect themselves before disaster strikes. It also eliminates the risk of stolen checks. Citizen Corps Councils and partners can help those who rely on federal benefits learn about two safer, more convenient ways to get their money:

  • The Go Direct campaign gives people who have checking or savings accounts a fast, free way to sign up for direct deposit. (http://www.godirect.org)
  • The Direct Express Debit Master Card gives people without bank accounts a secure, convenient, and U.S. Treasury-recommended way to receive their Social Security payments. (https://www.usdirectexpress.com/)

More information, including the Go Direct Disaster Preparedness Toolkit, talking points, and web banners, is available at www.godirect.org//partners/Disaster_Preparedness.cfm.

The U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission provides financial education resources for all Americans through its partnerships and web site. MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government's web site dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are planning to buy a home, balancing your checkbook, investing in your 401k, or navigating these economic hard times, the resources on MyMoney.gov can help you do it better. Throughout the site, you will find important information from 20 federal agencies government-wide. Toolkits, brochures, frequently asked questions, and other resources to help Citizen Corps Councils and partners improve financial literacy in their community are available at www.MyMoney.gov.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) administers a national financial education campaign called Money Smart. This comprehensive financial education curriculum is designed to help individuals develop financial skills and positive banking relationships through a free training program available both online and on CD. More information on the Money Smart program is available at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/.

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