RMJ Foundation Plans 5-Yr., $7.5M Literacy Effort

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The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, which supports consumer financial education and career development opportunities for credit union professionals and volunteers, announced it has begun a five-year, $7.5-million campaign focused on funding financial literacy programs.

"The theme of our five-year campaign is 'It's a New Day,'" said Debra Gannaway, Foundation chairman and CEO of Norton Community CU. "Every day is a new day for all of us to do something positive in our own lives or the lives of others-to learn how to better manage our finances, or build wealth, or to prevent ourselves or others from being overwhelmed by debt. It's never too late to learn, never too late to start."

Of the total, $5 million will be dedicated to the new Financial Freedom Fund, which will be used for efforts such as the development of curricula that would be appropriate to a wide variety of demographic groups-from elementary school students to senior citizens.

"We'll be developing curricula that could be used in schools, at community centers, and within organizations that provide social or other types of services to communities that cut across age and socioeconomic lines," Gannaway said.

The foundation will also work to make financial education a mandatory element in California's K-12 education curriculum.

The remaining $2.5 million comprises maintenance of the foundation's existing programs, such as funding education and professional development programs for credit union leaders. The Foundation currently raises about $500,000 a year for those programs.

The Financial Freedom Fund is being opened with a $50,000 contribution from California League Services Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the California league.

Another measure the Foundation said it is considering is opening partnerships with retailers and manufacturers in which those companies would donate a portion of consumer purchases to the foundation-much like partnerships that companies like Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, and others currently have with other charitable organizations.

To honor people who have striven to raise the public's financial literacy, the foundation will also institute a new, annual awards program, the Source Awards, which would recognize people both within and outside the credit union movement who have promoted financial literacy.

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