Bankers looking to establish homebuyer education programs will now have some help.

Lenders, government agencies, and housing groups have pooled their efforts to create the Homeowner Education and Counseling Institute.

The goal of the institute is twofold, according to Paul A. Schosberg, president of America's Community Bankers, the thrift trade group. It will create a standard curriculum for homeownership education, and it will train counselors to help first-time borrowers find credit.

"The collaborative resources of the institute will not only be able to develop model standards, certification, and curriculum, but will also serve as a vital clearing house to get information back to where it is most effective: the local community," said Mr. Schosberg, whose group contributed $50,000 to the institute.

America's Community Bankers' contribution is part of the $5 million the institute has raised since its inception late last month. Other contributors include the Fannie Mae Foundation, Freddie Mac, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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