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Berkshire Bank and UAlbany Team to Create Financial Literacy Toolkit

Resource will help users better manage their assets and avoid fraud and abuse

Financial Literacy Toolkit unveiled by UAlbany President George Philip

UAlbany President George M. Philip (left) unveils the Financial Literacy Toolkit for for project partners from Berkshire Bank, Senator Neil Breslin and Assemblyman Jack McEneny, and SSW representatives Dean Katharine Briar-Lawson and Professor Philip McCallion.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (November 23, 2010) -- Berkshire Bank, in partnership with the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare, unveiled today a comprehensive Web-based Financial Literacy Toolkit designed to increase financial literacy and resource-development for consumers, providers and professionals.

Cross-generational in approach, the Toolkit targets a range of literacy levels and reflects best practice educational principles, giving participants the tools to make more informed judgments in managing budgets, understanding investments, planning for retirement, and decreasing the incidence of financial fraud and abuse.

Robert Curley, Chairman, Berkshire Bank, NY Region

Robert Curley, Chairman, Berkshire Bank, NY Region

The Toolkit, funded by the Berkshire Bank Foundation and supported by state grants secured by Senator Neil Breslin and State Assemblyman Jack McEneny, will offer resources and training for consumers and providers, as well as social workers, bank professionals, and legal professionals. Dr. Philip McCallion, UAlbany professor of social welfare and director of the Center for Excellence in Aging and Community Wellness, designed the Toolkit website, which integrates elements of education, service, and research.

"UAlbany is proud to be working with Berkshire Bank on a project that aids the citizens of our region, particularly those who most need to grow and preserve their financial resources," said University at Albany President George M. Philip. "This is a superb example of how UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare establishes partnerships with the community to enhance quality of life."

"Efforts to improve financial literacy hold great promise for today and all of our tomorrows," State Assemblyman Jack McEneny of Albany said. "While most efforts are pegged at immediate results, this long-range approach will create a lasting benefit to people facing the increasing fiscal challenges we all face. I applaud Berkshire Bank and the University at Albany for spearheading this effort. It reflects the growing need for cooperation between the banking community and the college community."

"Having worked in the New York community and in banking for more than forty years I have seen the benefit of giving back and the rewards of watching these investments impact lives," said Robert Curley, Chairman, Berkshire Bank, NY Region. "This innovative online resource not only allows visitors to access information on their own terms, but also provides online access to an expert when needed, which is exciting."

"Education is one of our Foundation’s funding priorities and we are committed to giving people the tools and information they need to make sound financial decisions. The University at Albany has significant experience in this area. By collaborating with the school, we are able to pool our joint financial intelligence to help people establish a secure financial future," said Berkshire Bank Foundation Executive Director Peter Lafayette. "Whether you’re a college student managing school loans or an adult calculating an affordable mortgage payment, we want to help people learn and use the best financial practices."

"There are many aspects to financial literacy and, so, many materials out there to help," said McCallion. "What's been absent is a one-stop online location that meets self-instruction needs and which also can support instructors and coaches."

The site includes fraud and abuse resources and training (online and in-person) for social workers, bank and legal professionals, and others. Users, in gaining an understanding of financial literacy, will come to recognize risk factors for exploitation, make more informed judgments, and take effective actions regarding their current and future management of money.

A comprehensive list of resources is available at the Financial Literacy Toolkit website.

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