Washington (May 18, 2004) -- The American Institute of CPAs is calling on its members to volunteer in a multi-pronged grassroots effort to improve financial literacy.
The institute is working in conjunction with state CPA societies nationwide to roll out the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy campaign, aimed at educating Americans about the basics of financial planning, the AICPA announced Monday.
The multi-pronged initiative will include a seven-member National CPA Financial Literacy Commission chaired by Clifton Gunderson chief executive Carl George and a grassroots mobilization team led by Alabama CPA Jimmy Williamson that will facilitate volunteerism. The mobilization team will kick off its efforts in California, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Missouri, which already have financial literacy programs in place.
The effort will also include a Web site with financial literacy resources for both CPAs and consumers, a financial literacy hotline on the USA Today Web site staffed by CPA financial planners who will answer reader questions, and a joint PSA campaign with the National Endowment for Financial Education that will launch next year. The AICPA is also developing a free online financial literacy education course for CPAs.
"The cornerstone of our campaign is the talent and expertise of our members in the area of financial literacy," AICPA chief executive Barry Melancon said. He noted that the institute will continue its existing financial literacy efforts, which include Women's Financial Health Week and the CPA Information Package.
Melancon and AICPA chairman Scott Voynich were joined in announcing the program by the nation's highest-ranking CPA, Comptroller General of the United States David M. Walker, who noted that the nation's financial condition is "worse than advertised."
"The American people may not realize it, but their financial futures will be shaped not only by their own decisions, but also by the fiscal choices being made in Washington," Walker said. While the official U.S. gross debt stands at about $7 trillion, Walker said that number excludes many big ticket items, such as unfunded Social Security and Medicare benefits. With those other items factored in, U.S. gross debt hits $42 trillion.
-- Melissa Klein Aguilar
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