In May 2004, the CPA profession launched a unified financial literacy initiative: 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy. The effort brought together the AICPA, the state CPA societies and individual CPAs to address a growing public issue: financial illiteracy. With bankruptcies and credit card debt skyrocketing and savings plummeting, CPAs stepped in to volunteer their time and expertise to help Americans get on the right financial path.
The initiative sends the message that financial education should be a lifelong endeavor—from encouraging children to save their allowances to helping adults plan for a secure retirement. Program information focuses on what people need at each stage of their lives, including:
- Tweens & Teens
- College Students
- Military & Reserves
- Parents & Children
- Home Owners
- Small Business Owners
- In Crisis
National CPA Financial Literacy Commission: Chaired by Ernie Almonte, CPA, the commission is leading the profession in a national effort to advance the financial literacy of Americans. Toward this end, they are working to increase awareness of the importance of financial literacy education, build liaisons within the financial literacy community, and promote efforts involving CPAs.
360 Degrees of Financial Literacy Consumer Web site: The AICPA’s award-wining financial literacy Web site is the centerpiece of the campaign, where consumers can find extensive free resources to help them make sound financial decisions. The site is free from all advertising, sales, promotions and branding—a feature that brought recognition in a recent Newsweek article. The article cited the 360 Web site saying, "360financialliteracy.org: basic financial education from the nation's CPAs. Impartial and solid." Visit www.360financialliteracy.org.
National Public Service Advertisement Campaign with the Ad Council: In October 2006, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) extended the reach of the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy initiative by partnering with the Ad Council to implement Feed the Pig™ (FTP), a national public service announcement (PSA) campaign. The campaign sends a wake-up call that Americans aged 25-34 need to start making smart financial decisions or they will find their long-term financial security at risk. Featuring Benjamin Bankes, an adult-sized pig who evokes memories of the piggy bank, the campaign delivers a strong message about the importance and benefits of saving. A dedicated Web site, www.FeedthePig.org, provides free financial information and tools to help young career builders take control of their finances and build long-term financial security.
Weekly Reader: AICPA teamed with Weekly Reader to create a free educational program, Budget Buzz: Be Smart about Saving, to provide basics of financial literacy to 4th grade students and their teachers. The program materials include a poster and two hands-on activities designed to help students understand financial concepts in a fun, interactive way. The program was distributed with the Weekly Reader Grade 4 magazine and reached 665,000 students.
Disaster Recovery and Preparedness Guides: To help Americans regain financial balance following disaster or to establish a plan to prepare for one, the AICPA and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), with support from the AICPA Foundation, jointly developed two guides: Disaster Recover: A Guide to Financial Issues and Disaster Planning: A Guide to Preparedness.
CPA Financial Literacy Resource Center: CPAs and the state CPA societies can find information to use in educating consumers at a Web resource center. It features a free CPE course and toolkits created by the AICPA and California Society of CPAs that are tailored to each life stage and include a PowerPoint presentation and fact sheets. Visit www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy.
CPA Mobilization Kits: All the tools a CPA needs to engage in community discussions are included in these kits. Created by the AICPA and the California Society of CPAs, each kit focuses on a particular life event and includes a PowerPoint presentation with notes and fact sheets of pertinent issues. To view all mobilization kits, visit http://www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy/life_cycle_resources.asp.
Certificate for Volunteer Financial Literacy Service: To qualify for the certificate, a CPA must be either a member of the AICPA and a state CPA society and have 5 volunteer financial literacy occurrences (e.g., present a speech at a local community group, hold a brown bag luncheon session at a firm, author an article in local newspaper, etc.) or perform 7 or more hours of volunteer service leading or presenting financial literacy programs or serving as a leader of an AICPA or state society committee/group/task force whose main focus is on financial literacy.