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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 16, 2008

Angela Waugaman, for Visa Inc.
703-946-5737 ext. 113

Chicago Bears' Quarterback Kyle Orton Joins Treasurer Giannoulias, Visa Inc. for Statewide Launch of "Financial Football"

Money Management Video Game Being Kicked Off in Chicago is Centerpiece of Effort to Improve the Financial Literacy of Illinois Teenagers

Chicago, IL - September 16, 2008 - Tackling the problem of financial illiteracy among Illinois teenagers head-on, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Visa Inc. today announced the statewide rollout of an effort to improve the money management skills of high school students. Treasurer Giannoulias will be distributing free copies of "Financial Football" - an interactive money management video game with an NFL theme - to every high school and public library in Illinois.

The centerpiece of Visa's nationwide educational initiative with the NFL and PLAYERS INC, "Financial Football" helps students tackle their financial futures. This computer-based game is accompanied by a classroom curriculum and can also be downloaded for free on cell phones.

Treasurer Giannoulias kicked off this new financial literacy campaign today at Kenwood Academy in Chicago with help from Visa officials and Chicago Bears' Quarterback Kyle Orton. Orton shared his personal experiences on the importance of money management with students. Treasurer Giannoulias and Orton then rolled up their sleeves and led student teams in a lively game of "Financial Football."

"High school kids need to know how to make smart money management decisions before heading off to college or entering the workforce," said Kyle Orton. "It takes the combined efforts of parents, teachers and mentors within the community to give teenagers a strong background in personal finance."

"It doesn't matter if you are a professional athlete or a student with a part-time job, the same financial lessons apply," Giannoulias said. "We hope by delivering money management lessons in a fun, competitive way that concepts like compound interest and percentage rates will stay with students throughout their lives."

Demonstrating broad-based support for having financial education begin at home and extend to the classroom, a recent study released by Visa shows 91% of consumers surveyed believe all high school students should take a financial education class before graduating.

Visa and Treasurer Giannoulias hope "Financial Football" can help Illinois teens do just that. Available online at, "Financial Football" puts students' fiscal knowledge to the test in an online simulation game environment by combining the structure and rules of the NFL with financial education questions of varying difficulty. To score points, a team needs to answer a series of money management questions correctly. Wrong answers and penalties can cost a team yardage. The team with the highest point total after four quarters wins the game.

Today's event is part of a national educational campaign with Visa, the NFL and PLAYERS INC., now in its fourth season. Since 2006, Visa has reached agreements with seventeen states to distribute "Financial Football" to every high school in those states, including Illinois. The other states are West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Kentucky and Arizona.

The online version of "Financial Football" has been downloaded more than 200,000 times and in 2007, "Financial Football" became a free, first-of-its-kind cell phone game. Mobile customers can play the game on their cell phones by texting the word VISA to 24421.

"For over a decade, Visa has been committed to promoting financial literacy and we are proud to have Kyle Orton with us as we assist Treasurer Giannoulias in his efforts to strengthen financial education efforts throughout Illinois," said Jason Alderman, director of financial education, Visa Inc.

"Financial Football" is part of Practical Money Skills for Life (, a free, award-winning, teacher-tested and teacher-approved financial education program that is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. The program contains three comprehensive sections, complete with money management resources and lesson plans tailored for use at home, in the classroom or at work. It also contains an array of tips to help prepare for life changing financial events, from planning for a baby to saving for college and retirement, as well as a number of other budget calculators and interactive games. Visa also runs What's My Score (, a leading higher education consumer awareness program. The website guides college students through the ABC's of a FICO credit score, from factors that can lower a score to ways on improving it, at no charge.

About Illinois State Treasurer's Office
Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias serves as the state's banker. His primary responsibility is to protect and invest nearly $16 billion in state and local funds. The Treasurer's Office also administers the Bright Start College Savings Program and several low-interest loan programs that promote economic development and home ownership. Elected in 2006 as youngest state treasurer in the nation, Giannoulias has emphasized financial education, offering curriculum and resources on personal savings, debt reduction, foreclosure prevention and identity theft to youth, women and seniors.

About Visa USA
Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit

For more information or to schedule an interview with a Visa spokesperson, please contact Angela Waugaman at (703) 683-5004, ext. 133.

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