LifeSmarts consumer literacy program launches 2021-22 season with new online learning, scholarship, and community service opportunities for teens

Millions of student leaders have gained real-world knowledge through the program’s 27 years of education and competition

September 13, 2021
Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242

Washington, DC—Today marks the official launch of the 2021-2022 season of LifeSmarts, a national scholarship competition and educational program for middle-school and high-school students that tests knowledge of real-life consumer issues and is helping to create a future generation of consumer-savvy adults. A new season of LifeSmarts goes live online at LifeSmarts.org today. LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy watchdog.

“We are very excited to launch this season of LifeSmarts,” said Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “For more than a quarter century, LifeSmarts has given students the skills they need to succeed as adults. We’ve seen more than 1.5 million students gain knowledge, confidence, leadership capabilities, and team-building skills. The competition is fun, and the impact of LifeSmarts is life-long.”

As our nation’s education institutions continue to evolve in response to the pandemic, LifeSmarts has evolved as well, offering tools to meet the needs of instructors whether they are teaching inside a classroom or remotely.

“No matter what modality schools are using, LifeSmarts has resources for educators and parents to use during this unique time,” said Hertzberg. “Developing smart and successful citizens, workers, and consumers is always our mission, and we’re here to help students and educators meet the challenges imposed by COVID-19.”

LifeSmarts focuses on five main content areas:

  • consumer rights & responsibilities
  • personal finance
  • technology & workforce prep
  • health & safety
  • the environment

Each year, LifeSmarts competitors answer more than 3.5 million consumer questions about credit reports, recycling, nutrition, social media, state lemon laws, and everything in between. Students are quizzed on their knowledge of these subject areas during online competition. Top-performing teams then advance to statewide competitions, and state champion teams, as well as several wildcard teams, advance to the national championship held each year in a different American city.

The 2022 National LifeSmarts Championship is scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, April 21-24, 2022, where State Champion and Wild Card teams will meet to compete for the national title. Last year’s competition was held virtually.

In addition to online, state, and national competitions, LifeSmarts recognition and awards occur throughout the program year:

Teams of students vie for cash prizes in the online TeamSmarts quiz, which focuses on a specific LifeSmarts content area each month from September through February.

Classroom mentor programs: Five $1,000 scholarships are awarded each winter to winning LifeSmarts students who become LifeSmarts OTC Medicine Safety Mentors to educate younger students and community members about medicine safety. LifeSmarts thanks Johnson & Johnson for underwriting this important community service project.

Partnering with FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), 4-H, and FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America), LifeSmarts complements these organizations’ projects, judging events, competitive events, and activities. LifeSmarts offers special opportunities for members of these student leadership organizations.

LifeSmarts is active in all states and the District of Columbia.

“We are proud of the impact LifeSmarts has made entering its 28th  year educating teens, and we are excited to continue to grow the LifeSmarts program, to educate students about financial literacy, and to create a new generation of savvy, market-ready consumers and workers,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Too often traditional high school curriculum fails to teach students vital information that will be crucial once students go to college, get their first job, or move out of their parents’ house.”

In addition to hosting the official LifeSmarts competition, LifeSmarts.org provides resources for educators to supplement existing lesson plans. These include daily quizzes, educational videos, lessons, focused study guides, and scholarship opportunities. LifeSmarts lessons closely align with courses taught in family and consumer sciences, business, technology, health, and vocational education. Math and English teachers have also had success with LifeSmarts, as have homeschool and community educators.

Major LifeSmarts contributors include: Amazon, American Express, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Melaleuca, NortonLifeLock, Toyota, Underwriters Laboratories, Western Union, and WSECU, along with a number of state and local sponsors.

Visit LifeSmarts.org for more information.

###

About LifeSmarts

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit: LifeSmarts.org, email lifesmarts@nclnet.org, or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at 202-835-3323.

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

LifeSmarts consumer literacy program launches 2020-21 season with new online learning, scholarship, and community service opportunities for teens

September 14, 2020

Millions of student leaders have gained real-world knowledge through the program’s quarter-century of education and competition

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today marks the official launch of the 2020-2021 season of LifeSmarts, a national scholarship competition and educational program for middle-school and high-school students that tests knowledge of real-life consumer issues and is helping to create a future generation of consumer-savvy adults. A new season of LifeSmarts goes live online at LifeSmarts.org today. LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy watchdog.

“We are very excited to launch this season of LifeSmarts,” said Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “For more than a quarter century, LifeSmarts has given students the skills they need to succeed as adults. We’ve seen more than 1.5 million students gain knowledge, confidence, leadership capabilities, and team-building skills. The competition is fun, and the impact of LifeSmarts is life-long.”

Education certainly looks different across the country this year, and LifeSmarts has tools to help. “No matter what modality schools are using, LifeSmarts has resources for educators and parents to use during this unique time,” said Hertzberg. “Developing smart and successful citizens, workers, and consumers is always our mission, and we’re here to help students and educators meet the challenges imposed by COVID-19.”

LifeSmarts focuses on five main content areas:

  • consumer rights and responsibilities
  • personal finance
  • technology
  • health and safety
  • and the environment

Each year, LifeSmarts competitors answer more than 3.5 million consumer questions about credit reports, recycling, nutrition, social media, state lemon laws, and everything in between. Students are quizzed on their knowledge of these subject areas during online competition. Top-performing teams then advance to statewide competitions, and state champion teams as well as several wildcard teams advance to the national championship held each year in a different American city.

The 2021 National LifeSmarts Championship is scheduled to take place in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 21-24, 2021.  LifeSmarts will host State Champion and Wild Card teams from both the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 program years, celebrating winning students in a first-ever double competition. If COVID-19 makes that impossible, NCL will host a virtual event. Winning team members receive scholarships and other prizes.

In addition to online, state, and national competitions, LifeSmarts recognition and awards occur throughout the program year:

  • Teams of students vie for cash prizes in the online TeamSmarts quiz, which focuses on a specific LifeSmarts content area each month from September through February.
  • Classroom mentor program: Five $1,000 scholarships are awarded each winter to winning LifeSmarts students who become LifeSmarts OTC Medicine Safety Mentors to educate younger students and community members about medicine safety. LifeSmarts thanks Johnson & Johnson for underwriting this important community service project.
  • Partnering with FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), 4-H, and FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America), LifeSmarts complements these organizations’ projects, judging events, competitive events, and activities. LifeSmarts offers special opportunities for members of these student leadership organizations.

LifeSmarts is active in all states and the District of Columbia, where NCL is headquartered.

“We are proud of the impact LifeSmarts has made in its 26 years of educating teens, and we are excited to continue to grow the LifeSmarts program, to educate students about financial literacy, and to create a new generation of savvy, market-ready consumers and workers,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Too often traditional high school curriculum fails to teach students vital information that will be crucial once students go to college, get their first job, or move out of their parents’ house.”

In addition to hosting the official LifeSmarts competition, LifeSmarts.org provides resources for educators to supplement existing lesson plans. These include daily quizzes, educational videos, social media competitions, focused study guides, and scholarship opportunities. LifeSmarts lessons closely align with courses taught in family and consumer sciences, business, technology, health, and vocational education. Math and English teachers have also had success with LifeSmarts, as have homeschool and community educators.

Additional major LifeSmarts contributors include: AARP, American Express, Intuit, Melaleuca, Underwriters Laboratories, and WSECU, along with a number of state and local sponsors.

Visit LifeSmarts.org for more information.

###

About LifeSmarts

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit: LifeSmarts.org, email lifesmarts@nclnet.org, or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at 202-835-3323.

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

‘Should I stay or should I go?’ How the pandemic has affected higher education

By NCL Health Policy intern Talia Zitner

Every morning, I wake up with a new decision to make. Am I going back to campus? Or am I spending the Fall semester taking online classes from the comfort of my childhood bedroom? I’m a rising sophomore at Wesleyan University, and to add insult to injury, I’m also an incoming transfer student. My internal debate about going back to school is near-constant, and despite weighing the pros and cons of each, I still can’t seem to come to a comfortable conclusion.

Around the country, colleges and students are faced with this same, nearly impossible challenge. If schools can’t or won’t open in the fall, they risk closing forever without tuition money. If they do allow students to come back to campus, and an outbreak occurs, they put students, professors, faculty, staff, their families, and the greater community at risk. Students rely on colleges to be their home away from home, a place where they can work and learn in a structured, safe, and healthy environment, not to mention the social benefits.

Consequently, coming back to campus poses a serious financial and ethical question. Like anything else, college and higher education is a business. Consumers want to get the most for their money, and the colleges and universities need consumers to engage to have a sustainable business model. The pandemic has shifted the conversation in many areas of life, higher education included.

This issue is especially complicated because it can be broken down from multiple perspectives. For example, an economic point of view argues that colleges are only re-opening because they need the money. Like many other businesses, they stay open because they have no other choice. Without the money generated through tuition and other forms of revenue like donation and state funding, it would take years for schools to recover from the impact of COVID. But college is a substantial investment for families. Why should consumers be expected to pay full (or reduced) tuition for an experience that is more like a monastery than college? Will the investment really be worth it if schools are simply shut down again because of an outbreak at a campus party?

On the other hand, if students aren’t in school come fall semester, what else would they be doing? Most students are hard-pressed to find a job or internship that’s worth taking a semester off for in this environment. And time off may push back a student’s graduation time, putting them behind the rest of their peers. For very legitimate reasons, students want to come to campus and keep their college experience intact.

This seems to be where my own expectations fall. I have no idea if the situation will improve between now and the spring semester. To me, the only course of action is to enjoy the experience that I will have, even if it means wearing a mask.

Talia is a Washington, DC native and a rising sophomore at Wesleyan University, where she is studying English. Beyond health policy, Talia’s interests are in journalism, law, and social justice.

Consumers for Safe CBD is working to protect, educate Americans

As America’s premier consumer advocacy organization, with a rich history of fighting to make the marketplace fair, safe, and healthy for consumers, NCL is hard at work on the most important issues in food and drug safety and to collaborate on improving consumer education.

In recent years, NCL has been observing the CBD, or cannabidiol, marketplace exploding, with products lining shelves of grocery stores, specialty shops—even gas stations. Products were appearing to make many claims or hint at miracle cures, and most consumers had no idea how or whether the products were being regulated. Who is making sure these tinctures, oils, gummies, and lotions are safe, and do they do what they claim?

This is why last year, NCL joined forces with the Consumer Federation of America and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, to create a national campaign called Consumers for Safe CBD.

NCL had identified a serious need for greater education among consumers about CBD, and that’s why Consumers for Safe CBD was created. Consumers for Safe CBD aims to help educate the public about the risks related to untested, unapproved CBD products on the market, champion the rights of consumers, and call on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and industry to do better to ensure safety and promote a pathway for new products through clinically tested scientific research.

“Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is being used in a growing number of consumer products and is illegally sold in stores and on the Internet,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We’re working to educate consumers and ensure accurate labeling, clear guidelines, and further research to protect against unknown and known risks of CBD products.”

NCL and its partners continue to raise awareness among consumers, policymakers, and regulators about the health risks associated with the unregulated CBD marketplace, in particular with the unproven health claims and often inaccurate labeling of products on the market today. Beyond the known health risks associated with unregulated CBD, there are a number of unscrupulous marketing tactics that prey on unsuspecting consumers. This includes false and dangerous claims that CBD has medical benefits that can prevent and stop the spread of the COVID-19.

By warning consumers about these false claims, participating in media interviews and publishing op-eds across the country, highlighting important research and reports, and sending letters to several retailers, state Attorneys General and Members of Congress, the campaign is working to protect consumers across the country from unapproved and potentially dangerous CBD products.

“We need to better understand the potential health benefits of CBD, but this can only be accomplished through clinical testing and scientifically validated methodologies,” said Greenberg. “We need the FDA to step up for consumers and for the public health.”

The time for action is now. CLICK HERE for more information about the Consumers for Safe CBD effort.

Consumer literacy program for teens launching new season year

LifeSmarts, the nation’s premier consumer program, has never been more relevant. Launching its 27th year this fall, our consumer literacy educational program and scholarship opportunity for teens provides real-world education for students on core consumer topics and develops critical thinking skills. LifeSmarts curriculum covers five key topic areas: consumer rights and responsibilities, the environment, health and safety, personal finance, and technology. LifeSmarts is creating consumer savvy young people who will be well equipped for adult life in today’s complex, global marketplace.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic this spring, the LifeSmarts program has pivoted to help newly at-home educators, students, and parent-educators make use of the many free educational resources the program provides.

NCL’s LifeSmarts staff created new resources to help students learn from home during this challenging time:

  • New Weekly Quizzes provide an opportunity for students to quiz independently, while allowing coaches to track student scores and progress.
  • LifeSmarts Adventure, the LifeSmarts app, has been relaunched. The app takes competitors on a virtual road trip as they quiz on all LifeSmarts topics.
  • Quality third-party LifeSmarts resources have been vetted and shared with our audience. These include practice sets developed by LifeSmarts, coaches, and coordinators using a variety of online study platforms.
  • Coaches receive weekly program updates featuring LifeSmarts resources to enhance online learning.
  • The LifeSmarts.org home page has been refreshed to focus on learning from home.

The LifeSmarts 2020-2021 season launches next month! This year, the program will offer new and exciting ways for educators and students to get involved in LifeSmarts. New projects this year will include features on over-the-counter medicine safety, Social Security and retirement planning, and a relaunch of the official LifeSmarts Adventure app, new quizzing activities, and more!

LifeSmarts has plenty to offer educators—teaching tools, resources, and curriculum. And for students, the skills they need to be successful adults, as well as extracurricular activities, community service opportunities, character development, and many
experiences whose memories will last a life-time.

Think LifeSmarts might be right for you or someone you know? Visit LifeSmarts.org to learn more.

Florence Kelley is smiling down upon Congress this week

NCL’s Florence Kelley, the towering reformer who headed the League from its first days in 1899 until her death in 1932, is surely smiling upon the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

In her time, Kelley worked tirelessly to pass federal anti-lynching laws in the United States. She was a powerful voice for racial justice and was raised in a fiercely abolitionist Quaker family. But she ran into enormous opposition and was continually angered and frustrated by the inability to get the federal proposal – the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill – through Congress.  This legislation was first introduced in 1918 by Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, a Republican from St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States House of Representatives; the Act made lynching a federal crime. The Dyer Act did pass the U.S. House of Representatives in 1922, but was halted in the Senate by a filibuster by white supremacist Southern Democrats. In fact, since 1918, there have been 200 attempts to pass federal anti-lynching bills in the U.S. Senate.

But this week something historic took place. In a rare show of bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the federal Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act (H.R. 35), by a landslide 410 – 4 margin, named after 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. I’ve been to the Courthouse where his murderers were acquitted and have seen the tiny grocery store in Money, MS where he was accused of his crime: whistling at a white woman. It took nearly 100 years to fully turn around public opinion and gain overwhelming support for the idea that lynching should be—must be—recognized as a federal crime. Something Kelley always knew and supported.

The Senate has already passed its version Justice for Victims of Lynching Act (S. 488). In fact, the Senate bill passed by unanimous consent in December 2018 and again in February 2019, but because the House and Senate bills still have different titles and numbers, additional action is needed in the Senate before the legislation can go to the President’s desk. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reports that he expects President Trump to sign the bill into law shortly thereafter.    

Lynching plagued and terrorized mainly African Americans – but also Native Americans, Jews, Asians, and many others for so many decades. It’s a form of vigilante “justice” in which victims are kidnapped and executed in public, often by hanging, as punishment for suspected crimes or as a warning to others. According to the NAACP, there were 4,472 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, most of them involving blacks killed at the hands of white mobs. The House bill describes lynching as “a pernicious and pervasive tool that was used to interfere with multiple aspects of life — including the exercise of Federally protected rights,” and prohibits “conspiracies to violate each of these rights.” 

We owe a debt of gratitude to the House sponsor Representative Bobby Rush (D-Il) and Senate sponsors Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) for their leadership.

As Senator Booker noted, “Today brings us one step closer to finally reconciling a dark chapter in our nation’s history.” “Lynchings were used to terrorize, marginalize, and oppress black communities – to kill human beings in order to sow fear and keep black communities in a perpetual state of racial subjugation. If we do not reckon with this dark past, we cannot move forward. But today we are moving forward. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Rush, the House has sent a clear, indisputable message that lynching will not be tolerated. It has brought us closer to reckoning with our nation’s history of racialized violence. Now the Senate must again pass this bill to ensure that it finally becomes law.”

At the National Consumers League and in honor of our first leader Florence Kelley, we applaud that justice is finally done with the passage of the nation’s first law making lynching a federal crime.

Florence Kelley and women’s suffrage at the National Archives

Today the National Consumers League staff is visiting the exhibit at the National Archives entitled Rightfully Hers: American Women and the VoteAs many are aware, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. In 1920, American democracy dramatically expanded when the newly ratified 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the states from denying the vote on the basis of sex.  

As the exhibit notes, “The U.S. Constitution as drafted in 1787 did not specify eligibility requirements for voting. It left that power to the states. Subsequent constitutional amendments and Federal laws have gradually restricted states’ power to decide who votes. But before 1920, the only constitutional restriction prohibited states from barring voters on the basis of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude. States’ power to determine voter eligibility made the struggle for women’s voting rights a piecemeal process.” So the 19th Amendment was critically important because we no longer had to rely on states to grant women the right to vote. It became mandatory.

The National Consumers League, led by the towering reformer Florence Kelley, was a leading voice for women’s suffrage long before ratification of the 19th Amendment. In February 1898, Kelley wrote a paper entitled “The Working Woman’s Need of the Ballot,” which was read at hearings on “the philosophy of the [women’s suffrage] movement.

As Kathryn Kish Sklar points out in her biography of Kelley – Florence Kelley and the Nation’s Workconducted by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Women’s Suffrage: “No one needs all the powers of the fullest citizenship more urgently than the wage-earning woman …. Since she was “cut off from the protection awarded to her sisters abroad” but had no power “to defend her interests at the polls.” Kelley argued this impaired her standing in the community and lowered “her value as a human being and consequently as a worker.”

Florence Kelley and her fellow Progressive Era reformers led the fight for women’s suffrage in speeches, reports, and testimony before Congress. We thank them for their bravery and refusal to back down in the face of brutal opposition from many forces and we celebrate with them this 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment as we enjoy and take in all that this exhibit has to offer. Thanks to the National Archives and our dear friend Professor Robyn Muncy of the University of Maryland, who co-curated the exhibit with the Archives’ Corinne Porter.

The National Consumers League applauds House passage of FAIR Act

September 30, 2019

Bill would ban forced arbitration clauses in consumer and worker contracts

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League is applauding the groundbreaking legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives to restore legal rights to millions of American workers and consumers.

By a vote of 225-186 September 27, the House adopted the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, banning companies from forcing workers and consumers to resolve legal disputes in private arbitration—a forum essentially controlled by the company with no judge, no jury, and no oversight. 

These clauses have become ubiquitous in employment and consumer contracts, “take or leave it” contracts of adhesion that make it impossible for workers to sue their bosses in court for sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage theft, and nearly anything else or consumers to sue when a product proves dangerous, falsely advertised or marketed or violation of privacy or other rights. Arbitration is a rigged system where workers and consumers are less likely to win their cases in private arbitration, and when they do win, they tend to get much less money than they would in court.

Outlawing forced arbitration would restore access to the courts to more than 60 million U.S. workers who have signed away their right to sue.

“Arbitration is one of the central ways in which corporate America has rigged the system against middle class families, working people,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said Friday on the House floor.

The bill will likely face some resistance from Republicans in the Senate, but passing it in the House is a victory for workers and consumers. “It’s about time our House of Representatives stood up for democracy and the little guy,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. “We thank Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of the House Judiciary Committee for their leadership to move this bill and restore consumer and worker rights and hold corporate wrongdoers accountable.”

As Greenberg noted, “Forced arbitration clauses are toxic for companies and employees; they embolden companies to break the law with impunity, knowing they will never be held accountable because they cannot be sued in most democratic institution in the American democracy -our courts. Passage of the FAIR Act is an essential step to this end run around protecting the rights o average Americans.”

Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, briefly explained (Source: Vox)

The FAIR Act, introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would ban businesses from forcing workers and consumers to give up rights through mandatory arbitration clauses. It would also invalidate current agreements that have already been signed, but only for disputes that come up after the law goes into effect. 

The same bill was before the House last year, but did not get support from Republicans, who controlled the chamber at that time.  This time around, the challenge will be to get it through the Senate. But Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have recently shown an interest in curbing forced arbitration.

NCL applauds the House of Representatives for this historic vote and for its support for consumer and worker rights. We urge the Senate to move with dispatch, pass the bill and send it to the President’s desk for signature and enactment.

###

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

LifeSmarts launches 2019-20 season with new scholarship, community service opportunities for teens

September 18, 2019

Millions of student leaders have gained real-world knowledge through the program 

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–Today marks the official launch of the 2019-2020 season of LifeSmarts, with a new competition going live at LifeSmarts.org. LifeSmarts, a program of the National Consumers League (NCL), is a national scholarship competition and educational program for middle-school and high-school students that tests knowledge of real-life consumer issues and is helping to create a future generation of consumer-savvy adults.

“We are very excited to launch this season of LifeSmarts,” said national Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “For more than 25 years, LifeSmarts has given students the skills they need to succeed as adults. We’ve seen more than 1.5 million students gain knowledge, confidence, leadership capabilities, and team-building skills. The competition is fun, and the impact of LifeSmarts is life-long.”

LifeSmarts focuses on five main content areas:

  • consumer rights and responsibilities
  • personal finance
  • technology
  • health and safety
  • and the environment

Students are quizzed on their knowledge of these subject areas during online competition. Top-performing teams then advance to statewide competitions, and state champion teams as well as several wildcard teams advance to the national championship held each year in a different American city. The 2020 National LifeSmarts Championship will take place in the Washington, DC area April 25-28, 2020. Winning team members receive scholarships and other prizes.

Last year, students answered more than 3.5 million consumer questions about credit reports, recycling, nutrition, social media, state lemon laws, and everything in between. In April, the LifeSmarts state champion team from Barrington, Rhode Island, took home top honors at the 25th anniversary event in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to online, state, and national competitions, LifeSmarts recognition and awards occur throughout the program year:

  • Teams of students vie for cash prizes in the online TeamSmarts quiz, which focuses on a specific LifeSmarts content area each month from September through February.
  • Classroom mentor programs: Five $1,000 scholarships are awarded each winter to winning LifeSmarts students who become Safety Smart Ambassadors, using LifeSmarts content and UL’s Safety Smart modules to present safety messages to younger children in their communities.
  • Partnering with FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), 4-H, and FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America), LifeSmarts complements these organizations’ projects, judging events, competitive events, and activities. LifeSmarts offers special opportunities for members of these student leadership organizations.
  • A new quest is open for middle school participants focusing on lithium ion button cell batteries and the risks and hazards they pose to young children. This team-building and leadership opportunity will culminate in a PSA contest among middle school LifeSmarts This project is sponsored by UL’s XPLORLABS, which helps students and teachers solve problems through science and engineering to become part of the movement to make the world a safer place.
  • Thanks to a long-standing partnership with Western Union, high school LifeSmarts participants have the opportunity to educate older citizens to avoid fraud. These LifeSmarts Fraud Ambassadors will highlight common advance-fee and fake check scams, demonstrating that education is the best protection against fraud.
  • A LifeSmarts student will win a $2,000 scholarship by writing the winning privacy essay in a contest sponsored by ITRC and CyberScout.

LifeSmarts is active in all states and the District of Columbia, where NCL is headquartered.

“We are proud of the impact LifeSmarts has made in its 25+ years of educating teens, and we are excited to continue to grow the LifeSmarts program, to educate students about financial literacy, and to create a new generation of savvy, market-ready consumers and workers,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Too often traditional high school curriculum fails to teach students vital information that will be crucial once students go to college, get their first job, or move out of their parents’ house.”

In addition to hosting the official LifeSmarts competition, LifeSmarts.org provides resources for educators to supplement existing lesson plans. These include daily quizzes, educational videos, social media competitions, focused study guides, and scholarship opportunities. LifeSmarts lessons closely align with courses taught in family and consumer sciences, business, technology, health, and vocational education. Math and English teachers have also had success with LifeSmarts, as have homeschool and community educators.

Major LifeSmarts contributors include: Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Western Union, AARP, Comcast NBCUniversal, Sears Consumer Protection and Education Fund, American Express, Intuit, WSECU, CBM Credit Education Foundation, and a number of state and local sponsors.

Visit LifeSmarts.org for more information.

###

About LifeSmarts

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit: LifeSmarts.org, email lifesmarts@nclnet.org, or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at 202-835-3323.

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL: Consumers should be able to access broadcast channels for free via Locast

August 5, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Last week, the four largest broadcast networksABC, CBS, Fox, and NBCfiled suit against Locast, a free streaming service operated by the non-profit Sports Fans Coalition NY. The networks’ lawsuit seeks to block Locast’s streaming of local broadcast programming. The suit alleges that Locast violates copyright laws by failing to compensate the networks for their programming.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault:

Consumers can already legally obtain free over-the-air broadcast channels via an antenna on their roofs. We think broadcasters would be better off embracing an innovative technology that allows consumers to more easily access their ad-supported content.

To secure public accessibility of broadcast signals, the Copyright Act expressly permits non-profit organizations to retransmit free over-the-air broadcasts. Locast is operated by the non-profit Sports Fans Coalition NY as a free public service. NCL supports broad consumer choice for access to local broadcast channels.

This year alone, the four largest broadcast networks are expected to generate more than $10 billion in retransmission-consent fees from cable and satellite providers that carry the networks’ programs. These fees are largely passed onto consumers in the form of higher monthly cable and satellite bills. Along with advertising that networks and local television stations sell, retransmission fees support the production of critically important local news content as well as traditional entertainment programming. 

NCL and Sports Fans Coalition (SFC) have a history of working together on a range of important consumer issues. In 2014, together we successfully petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to repeal the Sports Blackout Rule. In 2018, we jointly urged the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers in the live event ticketing marketplace by cracking down on deceptive “white label ticketing websites.” We have also worked with SFC to create a landmark “Sports Bettor’s Bill of Rights” to ensure that consumers are protected as more states move to legalize online sports betting.

###

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.