The United States Conference of Mayors’ DollarWise campaign for financial literacy formally awarded a $4,000 grant to the City of Fresno and the United Way of Fresno County, as a part of its efforts with the DollarWise Summer Youth Campaign. The award was presented to the Mayor Ashley Swearengin during a financial literacy class for Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board (FRWIB) youth.

“Mayor Swearengin and the City of Fresno are true pioneers when it comes to teaching our youth the fundamentals of finance that will help ensure they grow up to be responsible, educated, and debt-free adults,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Teaching financial literacy and responsibility from a young age will not only help young people succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy, it will help us avert another mortgage meltdown and financial crisis. With our youth empowered to make better financial decisions, they will not only enjoy a brighter future, but also help our national economy prosper.”

In Fresno, the DollarWise grant will be used to expand the coalition’s efforts by partnering with the United Way of Fresno County and the FRWIB to provide financial education workshops over the course of summer 2011 focusing on 14- to 21-year-olds. This will be the first time Bank on Fresno will have partnered with FRWIB in this capacity. Partner financial institutions will be utilized to teach youth about checking and savings accounts and money management, an approach utilized by Bank on Fresno and acknowledged nationally as a “best practice.” Each student who completes the class will be eligible to receive a $25 incentive check to open a checking or savings account and enter the financial mainstream.

Bank on Fresno (BOF) is a joint effort of the State, Mayor Swearengin, FDIC, United Way, financial institutions and nonprofit and faith-based organizations to ensure every resident has access to mainstream financial institutions and financial education. BOF partners with banks to offer low or no cost accounts for the unbanked or under-banked population. BOF’s efforts have been recognized as a ‘best practice’ by the State and received acclaim from the FDIC, Dept of Treasury and United Way Worldwide.

“It is never too early to teach our young people about the right ways to save and spend their money,” Mayor Swearengin said. “This grant from the DollarWI$E program will help our Bank on Fresno partners in their important efforts to help our young people develop smart money management skills.”

The DollarWise Summer Youth Campaign is underwritten by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the founding sponsor of DollarWise. Bank of America’s support allows DollarWise to award grants of $4,000 each to five cities across America for their efforts to incorporate financial education in their summer youth employment programs. These programs are often when participating youth will receive their first paycheck, creating a teachable moment where they will learn what is in their paycheck along with the importance of savings, and other important topics.

The DollarWise Summer Youth Campaign (SYC) was launched in 2009. Its goal is to make financial education an integral component of every SYEP job throughout the country. Other awardees this summer include Columbus (OH), Baltimore, Phoenix, and Seattle. Past winners include Baton Rouge, Charlotte (NC), Houston, Norwalk (CT), and Philadelphia. The SYC grants were first awarded in 2010. The application period for the Summer Youth Campaign 2012 grants is expected to take place in December 2011 and January 2012.

DollarWise grew out of a desire of members of the Conference of Mayors’ Council for the New American City (CNAC) to help consumers learn more about financial issues and to empower them to become investors in their communities, especially through homeownership. CNAC is a coalition of nonprofit groups, corporations, and businesses that share a common goal of increasing investment in American cities.