WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (2/18/11)--The Obama administration Wednesday released its new "educator toolkit" with lesson plans teachers can use to help students prepare for the upcoming 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge. The project adds another resource to America's attempts to educate youth about finances--something credit unions, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and state leagues and associations have been involved in for several years. "Empowering students with the knowledge they need to make smart financial choices about saving, budgeting, and investing for the future is good for the long-term strength of our economy," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "It will help ensure that young people have the skills they need to achieve financial security, and that will help us continue to build this recovery on a strong and sustainable foundation." That's exactly what credit unions involved in educating youth have said. CUNA's National Credit Union Youth Week, which is April 17-23, has a theme this year of "Money Rock$ at My Credit Union." CUNA's Googolplex websites for youth also educate them in financial matters. Associated with that is CUNA's eighth National Youth Savings Challenge. In April 2010, roughly 352 credit unions participating in the program encouraged 176,750 youth to put a collected $24.8 million in their credit union savings accounts. Of those, 10,631 were brand new accounts. The National Endowment for Financial Education's (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program, which many credit unions use as a basis for curricula during classroom presentations, is one of the few financial education programs that have an evaluation component typically measuring knowledge gains with a pre-test and post-test. Like many of the credit unions' projects, the government's educational toolkit covers five core competencies of financial education: earning, spending, saving, borrowing and protecting against risk. It includes lesson plans from the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), and non-profit organizations. This year the educator toolkit will include interactive online lessons and Spanish language materials. The government's challenge includes a voluntary online exam for high school students that begins as of March 7 and that helps teach young Americans about saving, budgeting, investing and other skills critical to building a strong financial future. The highest scoring students on the exam will be recognized through a national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., and other high scorers will receive official award certificates. Last year more than 76,000 students and 2,500 educators in 50 states participated in last year's National Financial Capability Challenge. It is one of several projects offered by the administration. In November, the National Credit Union Administration, the FDIC and the U.S. Department of Education announced a partnership to encourage schools and financial institutions to work together to increase students' financial capability. For more on educational efforts by credit unions, use the links.