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.

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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.

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.

Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs staff honored with top volunteer award from national consumer literacy program, LifeSmarts

May 19, 2020

Theresa Kong Kee, Gloryana Akapo named 2020 LifeSmarts State Coordinators of the Year 

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

Washington, DC—LifeSmarts, a national teen consumer literacy and scholarship program, has named two Hawaii government officials its 2020 Coordinators of the Year: Theresa Kong Kee, Investor Education Specialist, and Gloryana Akapo, Securities Multi-Media Education Specialist with the Office of the Securities Commissioner, both with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Kong Kee has served as Hawaii State LifeSmarts Coordinator for 7 years; Akapo joined her as co-coordinator two years ago.

LifeSmarts, a consumer education competition that challenges teens in grades 9-12 about personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology, and consumer rights and responsibilities, is a program of the National Consumers League (NCL). LifeSmarts is coordinated by NCL at the national level and by volunteers who serve as State Coordinators across the country.

“Working together, Theresa and Gloryana run a very successful and competitive LifeSmarts program for students and educators in Hawaii,” said LifeSmarts Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “They have developed a state LifeSmarts website that includes many resources for educators. They actively promote LifeSmarts through social media to provide resources to their coaches, and they have continued to be especially active during the pandemic.”

LifeSmarts State Coordinators implement the national consumer education program at the local level, bringing to bear their knowledge of best practices for students and educators in their state. State Coordinators promote the program, advise educators, and run online and live state competitions to advance consumer education for the students in their states.

Staff within the Office of the Securities Commissioner in the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has served in the State Coordinator role since 2013.

“Theresa and Gloryana work so hard for their state, and it shows; Hawaii’s LifeSmarts program is truly exceptional, when it comes to administration, partnerships, and—most importantly—student participation and success,” said Hertzberg. “The Hawaii LifeSmarts program is robust, and student teams have done very well at the national level. Hawaii is also home to the second largest Junior Varsity (middle school) program in the nation. We are thrilled to honor them this year and congratulate them for a job very well done.”

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About LifeSmarts and the National Consumers League

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit: www.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.

2020 Champion LifeSmarts student teams announced by National Consumers League

April 28, 2020

Student competitors best in states in national consumer literacy education / scholarship program

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 (NCL) has announced the 2020 Champion student teams that took first place in their states’ LifeSmarts 2019-2020 competitions and have earned a place at the next National LifeSmarts Championship. LifeSmarts, a consumer education competition that challenges teens in grades 9-12 about personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology, and consumer rights and responsibilities, is a 26-year-old program sponsored by NCL.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 National LifeSmarts Championship was cancelled, but NCL is celebrating the teams of students who came in first in their states and would have competed for the 2020 national title. Due to the students’ success this year, all state champion and special Wild Card teams have qualified to compete at the 2021 National LifeSmarts Championship, which will be held in Cincinnati April 17-20, 2021.

“We are so proud of these students from across the country, who beat out thousands of other teens in order to take their state titles,” said LifeSmarts Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “We look forward to coming together next spring to finish out the competition and determine the 2020 National Champion team.”

LifeSmarts is an education and scholarship program run by the Washington, DC-based National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization. It competitively tests high school students’ consumer and personal finance knowledge. LifeSmarts is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in partnership programs with student leadership programs FBLA, 4-H, and FCCLA.

Long-time Indiana-based coach Diane Slaven, an instructor from Franklin County High School, was named the 2020 LifeSmarts Coach of the Year. In the words of the students who nominated Slaven:

Coach Diane Slaven and team in 2019“Mrs. Slaven sees LifeSmarts as an organization that teaches students things that they will need in their lives, that they aren’t necessarily exposed to in school. That is the reason why she is so invested and has given back to LifeSmarts as a coach for so many years. Mrs. Slaven is dedicated to the success of each student, not only in LifeSmarts but in our lives as well. Mrs. Slaven has led many teams to National Competitions throughout the years and has not failed to highly motivate and prepare each team. I think this says a lot about how caring and dedicated she is. She juggles the duties of LifeSmarts along with being department head of the business department. This year Mrs. Slaven is retiring, and is so deserving of this great honor due to everything she has given to us, and LifeSmarts throughout the years.”

In the 26 years that LifeSmarts has been educating high school and middle school teens on consumer issues, it has grown dramatically, with more than 3 million consumer questions answered at LifeSmarts.org in the online competition during the 2019-2020 program year.

“NCL’s LifeSmarts program is allowing us to rear a generation of consumer-savvy teenagers who often outsmart their parents on issues related to avoiding fraud, credit and debt, and complicated healthcare decisions,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

To learn more about the program, contact NCL’s Lisa Hertzberg at lisah@nclnet.org.

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About LifeSmarts and the National Consumers League

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit: www.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.

McKinley Tech High School Wins 2019 National Consumers League’s Washington, DC LifeSmarts Competition

March 3, 2020

Students will represent the District in the 26th Annual National LifeSmarts Championship in April

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

Washington, DC— LifeSmarts announced today that McKinley Tech High School’s Phoenixes Team was named the winner of the 2020 Washington, DC LifeSmarts Competition. The competition, hosted by the University of the District of Columbia David A Clarke School of Law, and the National Consumers League (NCL), tested local high school teams, comprised of teens in grades 9-12, about personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology and consumer rights and responsibilities. McKinley Tech Phoenixes will represent Washington, DC at the 26th annual National LifeSmarts Championship in April in Crystal City, VA. Comcast, a sponsor of the competition, awarded the team a $5,000 scholarship for travel expenses. 

“We were very excited to host the competition for DC once again this year. Students learn valuable skills and become savvy consumers by showcasing their knowledge in LifeSmarts competitions,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director.

During the competition held Friday, February 21, local high school teams from Columbia Heights Educational Campus; McKinley Technical High School; and the UPO Power Program competed individually and in buzzer-style matches, answering questions about consumer issues that impact everyday life.

“LifeSmarts asks relevant, tough questions. Many adults don’t know the answers. LifeSmarts prepares young people to be stronger, more assertive participants in our economy. I’m proud of our DC LifeSmarts students,” said Bill Cocke, the Washington DC LifeSmarts Coordinator.

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About LifeSmarts

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators implement the program locally. For more information and to register a team, 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. NCL’s mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information about NCL, visit 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.  
  • 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.

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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.

High school students shocked at waste uncovered during cafeteria food waste audits

I’m willing to guess that if you ask almost any student their favorite school period, the resounding answer will be “lunch!” My memories of school lunch involve scarfing down a peanut butter sandwich and quickly catching up with friends before our 30 minutes were up.