A new program aims to convince state lawmakers to support education about money and personal finance.

The National Conference of State Lawmakers, a bipartisan organization that provides research to policymakers, has compiled a report, titled “The Legislator’s Primer on Financial Literacy,” which offers options for providing the public with a better understanding of financial requirements and options.

The report uses data from surveys that purportedly show that many Americans lack the basic financial knowledge necessary to make wise financial decisions, including saving for the future, financing a college education and surviving an emergency event such as losing a job.

The report notes that many state lawmakers are crafting policies to ensure the public gains the financial understanding to succeed in the financial marketplace.

Most programs will likely target students, according to the report.

Many states require economics classes, and at least seven require students to complete a personal finance management skills course.

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Still, the report notes the need for financial education for adults, too.

The report lists a few successful models for creating public education for adults. Ideas include helping to build partnerships between private and public organizations to encourage groups to work together on financial literacy efforts, establishing interagency councils to coordinate existing and future efforts to increase financial literacy, creating a state-level office dedicated to coordinating and promoting the state’s financial education programs and policies, and encouraging financial literacy by investing in professional development for teachers and by encouraging and motivating teachers to incorporate financial literacy into their lesson plans.

Other resources on financial literacy can be found at www.ncsl.org.

U.S. Bank reports surge in online banking

Since December 2003, officials from U.S. Bank report that the number of members who actively use the bank’s free online bill pay service has jumped 250 percent.

In the last year, officials report that more than one million customers have enrolled in online banking services.

Industry experts say the trend to use Internet banking services and especially online bill-pay programs is a clear sign of growing confidence in Internet banking.

Wells Fargo donations tied to account activity

Local school districts that boasted the highest number of new Wells Fargo checking or savings account registrations received a generous gift last month – a cash donation.

Wells Fargo Bank made donations totaling $16,435 to five Pikes Peak-area school districts in April. How much each district received was based on the number of new checking account sign-ups in the district’s area last summer.

Ent Federal announces youth grants

Ent Federal Credit Union has chosen 11 organizations to receive grants totaling $35,000 from its 2005 Youth Endowment Series grants.

Among the recipients are Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Pikes Peak Children’s Advocacy Center for the Pikes Peak Region, Inc., Children’s Literacy Center, Colorado Springs Teen Court Inc., Community Partnership for Child Development, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration, KIDPOWER of Colorado Springs, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Colorado, TESSA and YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region.

The YES program was introduced in 2000 and directs support to organizations benefiting children in the Pikes Peak region.

Forty-four local non-profit organizations submitted applications for the 2005 grants totaling $35,000.

A volunteer committee of the credit union’s employees evaluated the applications on their benefit to youth in the community.

Wells Fargo seeks grant applicants

Applications are now being accepted to the 12th annual Wells Fargo Community Assistance Fund.

Through the fund, Wells Fargo will contribute $220,000 to an estimated 200 community-based, non-profit organizations. The average grant ranges between $500 and $1,500. Organizations must have an annual budget of $350,000 or less to qualify.

Applications are available at Wells Fargo branches and are due by June 30.

Nearly 500 attend credit union convention

Both professional and volunteer members from 70 Credit Unions around the state converged on Colorado Springs last month for the 71st Annual Meeting and Convention of the Colorado Credit Union League

Attendees, which included Air Academy Federal Credit Union, Colorado Springs Credit Union, Ent Federal Credit Union, Pikes Peak Credit Union and School District 3 Federal Credit Union, spent three days attending instructional classes and inspirational programs.

The theme for this year’s convention was “1 in 3 The Power of Unity,” representing the fact that in Colorado one in three residents are members or owners of credit unions.

The Credit Union League’s mission is to support and serve Colorado’s 144 member credit unions by promoting a positive public image, advancing legislative interests and strengthening operations and financial soundness.

For more information about the league, visit www.colocu.com or call (303) 427-4222.

– Rob.Larimer@csbj.com