Chase Manhattan Corp. and Visa U.S.A. Inc. have cofunded a program with the New York City public schools designed to teach special-education high school students basic financial skills using interactive multimedia technology.

Through a program called "Choices and Decisions, Taking Charge of Your Life," the students will learn the basics of financial planning, budgeting, and decision making through the use of interactive video, personal computers, and written material.

"This program seems to offer the right tools to teach kids the basic financial fundamentals that they need in a fun and exciting way that they can relate to," said Steven Kaplan, coordinator for Project Jobs in the city's Division of High Schools.

Project Jobs is designed to increase interaction between business, government, and special education students. Its goal is to teach marketable skills as well as to sensitize students and educators to the demands and expectations of the private sector, Mr. Kaplan said.

"Choices and Decisions is appropriate for our students because it reaches out to them through visual and fun techniques while teaching necessary survival skills," said Mr. Kaplan. "The use of interactive video and personal computers allows us to deliver the information through a unique medium."

Choices and Decisions uses fictional characters confronted with typical situations involving money to teach students aged 15 to 18 how to make financial plans.

The video uses television actors Tracey Gold of the series "Growing Pains" and Alfonso Ribeiro of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" in a series of scenes that examine important decisions in support of a financial goal.

The scenarios include moving out of their parents house, buying a car, and going to college, simulating a four-month period of a character's life. The program allows students to input their own financial choices and at the end, the PC is able to project a year into the future to see how the characters fared under the students' advice.

The Choices and Decisions program was unveiled in 1991 and was developed by Visa and LucasFilm Earing. It is distributed by Visa member financial institutions. More than 800 banks, including First Interstate Bank and Bank of America, have donated copies of the program to 10,000 high schools in 50 states.

Chase has donated 250 copies throughout metropolitan New York and is the only New York City-based bank involved with the program.

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