National Consumers League

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.