Educating consumers worldwide

Citigroup directs 10-year, $200 million program to almost 100 countries

April 08, 2004|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Citigroup, the country's largest financial institution, launched a $200 million campaign yesterday to support consumer education programs in nearly 100 countries around the world over the next decade.

The new financial education program will create an Office of Financial Education to coordinate programs globally and add a volunteerism initiative, which has been designed to encourage Citigroup's 275,000 employees to devote time to supporting financial education and other charitable causes.

In Maryland, Citigroup Inc. and Citigroup Foundation will continue to assist local financial counseling and homeownership programs, advising and donating money for finance academies at select high schools and partnering with local agencies and organizations. The Maryland Council on Economic Education will also receive a $30,000 grant for a statewide initiative to train teachers and develop a resource library.

"In a study by the Jumpstart Coalition, it found that only 20 percent of students learned about personal finance last year," said Dara Duguay, the new director of Citigroup's Office of Financial Education and former executive director of Jumpstart, a nonprofit group in Washington that lobbies for better financial education in schools.

"They can learn from their parents, but in some cases, parents aren't doing all that well, either," Duguay said. "Just look at the rising bankruptcy rate. So there's really a gap in learning there. Citigroup wants to get everyone thinking about their finances. Think of it as preventative education."

Port Discovery

In 2002, Citigroup and the Citigroup Foundation gave $77.7 million to organizations in 83 countries and territories. Over the past few years, the foundation's international grants have increased steadily from $8 million in 2000 to $14.3 million in 2002.

Starting this year as part of its new program, Citigroup will spend about $20 million annually over the next 10 years making grants to nonprofit and community groups in countries worldwide, including Egypt, Hungary, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil and South Africa.

Yesterday's announcement in Baltimore took place at Port Discovery, where Citigroup has had a long partnership with the children's museum, which offers a popular fast-action game show called The Money Show that helps participants learn to be financially literate and to make wise financial decisions.

"Citigroup is a long-standing supporter of financial education," Charles O. Prince III, chief executive of Citigroup, said in a statement. "Today, we are enhancing our commitment with new resources and a sharper focus. Not only are we committing financial resources, we are committing ourselves to helping people around the world build better lives for themselves and their families.

Touching lives

"Over the next 10 years, Citigroup will touch the lives of millions of people by supporting financial education that will help them achieve their dreams," Prince said.

In addition, Citigroup has created a Web site that features information on its Financial Education Program, future activities and other resources. The site can be found at http://financialeducation.citigroup.com.

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