Financial Security For All is eXtension’s Newest Offering

Americans struggling to make good money management decisions in a complex marketplace now have a new tool at their disposal. eXtension’s Financial Security for All (www.extension.org/personal_finance) brings the wealth of research-based university information on all aspects of attaining personal financial security.

“Many families around the country are striving to achieve financial stability. Now they will have many tools at their fingertips at any time of day or night to help them increase their money management skills and reach their financial goals,” said Sharon Seiling, Ohio State University Family Resource Specialist.

Financial Security for All provides Internet visitors with reliable and up-to-date financial security information through online lessons for self-paced learning and a knowledge base of commonly asked questions with research-based, peer-reviewed answers to help users learn more about specialized areas of personal finance.

“Financial Security for All is like having a personal financial advisor, but even better. Publications and answers to Frequently Asked Questions on a wide variety of financial topics are available to consumers 24/7 at no cost,” said Barb O’Neill, Extension Specialist; Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension “There is also an opportunity, through the Ask the Experts feature to get personalized advice and links to featured resources.”

eXtension launched its first Community of Practice, HorseQuest, to the public on November 2, 2006. The launch of Financial Security for All is, at this time, just within the Cooperative Extension System. It is expected that the full public launch will occur shortly after January 1, 2007. Additional Communities of Practice on consumer horticulture, fire ant damage and control, and wildlife damage management are expected to also launch in early 2007.

Financial Security for All offers programming across the age spectrum and, according to Judy Branch, University of Vermont Extension Specialist Family and Community Development the web site will assist all family members in addressing money management issues. “Parents and teachers are concerned that youth learn to plan how they will spend, save and share money to reach their goals. Attitudes about money are established early. Parents will find sound information in the Youth Financial Literacy web pages for eXtension Financial Security for All,” she said.

“Teams of child development, and family economics specialists as well as experts in curriculum development have provided resources to aid in learning about money management for all ages– pre-kindergarten through the teen and early adult years. Teens and pre-teens will find interactive web pages to help them understand basic principles and teachers and parents will find quality curricula for all ages,” said Branch.

As with all of eXtension, Financial Security for All has been developed through the collaboration of Community of Practice members–Extension professionals with expertise in this area. “Quality content developed in a virtual work place by an expert team is the formula for this exemplary, trusted, electronic learning environment. Participants will gain the knowledge, skills, motivation, and confidence to make their own financial decisions,” said Jane Schuchardt, National Program Leader for Family Economics, at USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES).

Financial Security for All was developed through eXtension’s innovative collaborative tools including a unique “wiki” environment where community of practice members create, enhance, edit, and publish the various components featured on the public web site.

“It has been a stretch to become comfortable with new technology and working in a web-based environment with multiple contributors. The rewards are becoming clear, as I begin to see the work of many coming together to produce a resource that will be valuable to us all, consumers and educators. As a county based Extension professional, I appreciate being linked to expertise from around the country and will especially utilize the Frequently Asked Questions and Ask the Expert components of eXtension,” said Jacque Miller, Colorado State University Family Resource Management Specialist.

For more information on eXtension go to: http://about.extension.org or to join the Financial Security for All Community of Practice go to: http://cop.extension.org/wiki/Financial_Security_for_All.

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