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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI Center for Personal Financial Education
awarded $90,000 grant as it moves to new home

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 8, 2002 -- The Center for Personal Financial Education has a new name, a new home, and a new grant.

Now called the University of Rhode Island Center for Personal Financial Education, the Center has moved from its first home in Warwick at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England to the Transition Center on URI’s Kingston Campus. The $90,000 grant from the CDNE Foundation will help bolster its programs in workplace financial education, online credit education for college students, and outreach at schools.

The relocation of the Center and the awarding of the grant were announced at a recent ceremony on the Kingston campus. The event was attended by URI President Robert L. Carothers, URI Provost M. Beverly Swan, Stephen R. Bucci, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England, Leonard O’Connor, chief executive officer of AQM Solutions and chairman of the CDNE Foundation, in addition to staff members and supporters of the Center.

According to Swan, moving the Center to URI supports one of URI’s main focus areas—Children, Families and Communities. "Since money matters are often at the core of a family’s stability, we want to be at the forefront of providing information to Rhode Islanders that strengthen families and in turn the entire state."

Len O’Connor, director of the CDNE Foundation, presented University officials with a check for $90,000 to support the Center’s efforts. The CDNE Foundation’s mission is to support credit education in New England.

The mission of the Center for Personal Financial Education is to advance the adoption of sound personal financial practices by developing and delivering personal financial education programs and conducting related research. The goal of the Center is for all Rhode Islanders to attain financial well being as a result of informed decision-making about spending, saving, and investing their money.

Joan Gray Anderson, URI professor of Human Development and Family Studies, serves as the Center’s director of research, and Claudia M. Kerbel is the Center’s director of outreach.
"There is a huge need for this kind of information, particularly since the economy has been in a downturn," Kerbel said. "There are so many people who walk the thin line between financial control and financial crisis, and when that layoff notice comes or the overtime drops, they fall into deep financial trouble."

The Center, established in 1996, is a joint venture between URI and the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England. Steve Bucci, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from URI, is currently the president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service and a director of the CDNE Foundation.

"Every day, we help people in financial trouble," Bucci said during the ceremony. "So it’s important that the URI Center has become a permanent part of the landscape. The Center is going to continue to help Rhode Islanders make better financial decisions."

The Center’s main product is a program called Getting Fiscally Fit, a series of nine modules designed for financial educators. The units cover effective strategies for personal money management, credit, insurance, buying your first home, buying and leasing a car, investing, saving for college, retirement planning and financial matters during later life.

Each module contains a leader guide, computer-generated slide presentation, script, participant materials and instruments for a three-part evaluation. The program is distributed by downloading from the Center’s website at www.gettingfiscallyfit.org or on CD. The cost is $295.

The Center also provides a free, semi-annual newsletter for 2,500 high school teachers around the region, which provides information about new research and teaching resources related to personal financial education.

In addition to Getting Fiscally Fit and the newsletter, the Center is currently conducting a study of the effectiveness of workplace financial education to measure changes in financial practices and improvements in productivity that result from financial education programming.
"We believe if people have their finances in order, they will be better, more productive workers. They’ll be making fewer phone calls to straighten out financial crises," said Anderson.

The Center also launched a new program last fall that was integrated into the sections of URI 101 offered to freshmen in the College of Business Administration. Kerbel and Anderson wanted to find out if financial education delivered using web technology would increase students’ knowledge about personal financial practices.

"The preliminary results show a real difference between those students who participated in the program and those in the control group," Kerbel said. Along with CCCS-SNE , the URI Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Rhode Island Cooperative Extension sponsor the URI Center. In addition to the CDNE Foundation, other Center supporters include: the U.S. Department of Agriculture, URI Agricultural Experiment Station, and the National Endowment for Financial Education.

For a digital image of the ceremonies, please contact Dave Lavallee, URI Department of Communications.

For Information: Claudia Kerbel 401-874-743, Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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