Washington, DC —
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association (ALA) today announced 13 grants, totaling more than $853,000, to public libraries and library networks across the country, giving millions of library patrons and their families greater access to unbiased investing information and resources.
The grants are awarded as part of a new program, Smart Investing @ your library®
, which is administered jointly by the Reference and User Services Association, a division of ALA, and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
"Libraries are an ideal conduit for individuals looking for unbiased information on investing," said FINRA Foundation Chairman Mary Schapiro, who also serves as FINRA's Chief Executive Officer. "It is our hope that library patrons from small towns to large cities have access to the resources they need to help them make important financial decisions."
Grants last from one to two years, although the projects are designed to be sustained following the conclusion of grant funding. ALA will provide ongoing assistance to the projects throughout the grant period, with a particular emphasis on helping libraries evaluate their progress and engage target audiences through effective marketing and outreach strategies.
"The ALA believes that libraries are places for self-help and lifelong learning," said ALA President Loriene Roy. "Investor education has an impact on people of all ages and economic circumstances, and the grants will assist libraries with the resources needed to provide unbiased investor education resources and programming in their communities." Smart Investing @ your library®
addresses the growing need for reliable investor education at the grassroots level. Increasingly, individuals are responsible for their own retirement planning and for navigating complex financial decisions virtually every day. Even knowing where to turn for quality information can be a challenge. Participating libraries will use available technology, along with more conventional approaches, to reach patrons at library facilities, at home via the Web, at the workplace, and at myriad community locations. Investor education opportunities and materials will be available to patrons at no cost.
The grantees cover urban, suburban and rural communities in equal measure. They will use grant funds to establish online and in-person programs, partner with community organizations, augment library collections, train staff and engage in promotional efforts so that diverse audiences have access to effective financial education resources. The grant recipients are:
- Alliance Library System, East Peoria, IL, $100,000; to offer onsite and Web-based workshops to provide investor information, establish a Smart Investing presence in the virtual world, and to operate a Smart Investing outreach van that will travel to community events and libraries throughout the Alliance's 14,000 square-mile service area in central Illinois.
- Ames Public Library, Ames, IA, $77,672, to partner with Iowa State University Extension to tailor online and on-site investor education classes for (Generation X, Boomers and the Silent Generation) and to train public service librarians on the use of investing information tools and databases.
- Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI, $73,370; to improve personal finance collections available at all library branches and online through the library's Web site, to provide advanced training to library staff in the use of print and electronic investment resources and to establish Smart Investing partnerships with organizations serving women, minorities and senior citizens.
- Naperville Public Library, Naperville, IL, $77,848; to create online video tutorials on the use of financial databases, improve the accessibility of investing research tools on the library's Web site, train adult services librarians in investment research strategies and provide high school and college students with money management skills in preparation for financial independence.
- Natrona County Public Library, Casper, WY, $17,600; to provide a five-part investor education series for young adults, host inter-generational community forums on retirement preparedness and augment the library's collections on personal finance and investing.
- Newton Free Library, Newton, MA, $46,100; to sponsor a sustainable, inter-generational retirement planning club for women in partnership with community organizations and to train reference librarians on financial literacy in partnership with the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.
- Orange County Library District, Orlando, FL, $96,360; to organize an eight-part bilingual series on basic investing themes for Hispanic families, to provide investor education video-on-demand for library patrons and staff and to create a bilingual "eGuide" on personal finance for users of the library's Web site.
- Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento, CA, $60,000; to organize an extensive lunchtime lecture series that provide information to investors and moderated book groups (with concurrent youth activities) for professional women ages 20 to 64.
- Schaumburg Township District Library, Schaumburg, IL, $31,000; to produce and market an investor education portal for the library, inclusive of videos introducing teen and adult patrons to investing-related library collections and reference services; and to create a traveling multimedia exhibit (and share it with other Illinois libraries) that will provide a high-impact visual lesson about investing.
- Southeastern Libraries Cooperating, Rochester, MN, $99,830; to partner with public television station KSMQ to broadcast 13, half-hour segments entitled Financial Connections in rural and small-town communities, with corresponding library-based programming and Web-based events and resources.
- Timberland Regional Library, Tumwater, WA, $99,044; to produce, market and distribute a multimedia series of Ten Minute Topics about investing in partnership with community television and the Service Corps of Retired Executives; to train information services librarians from 27 branch facilities throughout a 7,000 square-mile rural region; and to upgrade the investing collections available online and at each branch library.
- Winfield Public Library, Winfield, KS, $16,600; to employ a women-helping-women approach of providing educational and supportive services in a format that will encourage better saving and investing practices; to partner with the Chamber of Commerce in reaching out to women small business owners and respond to their learning needs; and to create a series of reference finding aids on investing topics, allowing library patrons to access quality resources efficiently.
- Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Youngstown, OH, $57,950; to partner with community agencies in undertaking a coordinated financial literacy initiative for the county's low- and moderate-income families, with a focus on Earned Income Tax Credit preparation assistance and helping parents save and invest for their children's education.
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. To date, the FINRA Foundation has approved $14.7 million in grants and an additional $10.2 million in direct investor education programming. For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit www.finrafoundation.org.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. Created in 2007 through the consolidation of NASD and NYSE Member Regulation, FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business - from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms; writing and enforcing rules and the federal securities laws; informing and educating the investing public; providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.FINRA.org.
Established in 1876, the American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Its mission is "to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all." For more information, visit www.ala.org.