LifeSmarts was established in 1994, and has been a program of the National Consumers League since 2000. LifeSmarts is a national program locally coordinated by state partnering organizations and agencies.
LifeSmarts is an educational opportunity that develops the consumer and marketplace knowledge and skills of teenagers in a fun way and rewards them for this knowledge. The program complements the curriculum already in place in middle- and high-schools and can be used as an activity for classes, groups, clubs, and community organizations. LifeSmarts is open to all 6th-12th grade students in the United States.
LifeSmarts topics have been chosen to encourage and reward knowledge in the areas that matter most to consumers and workers in today's marketplace: personal finance; health and safety; the environment; technology; and consumer rights and responsibilities.
The National Consumers League is America's oldest consumer organization, representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since our founding in 1899. NCL provides government, businesses, and other organizations with the consumer's perspective on concerns including child labor, privacy, food safety, and medication information. NCL is home to the LifeSmarts program, Child Labor Coalition, NCL's Fraud Center, and SOS Rx Coalition. NCL is a private 501(c)(3) membership organization. Learn more about NCL.
1. What is LifeSmarts?
2. Who operates LifeSmarts?
3. Who sponsors LifeSmarts?
4. What does LifeSmarts teach teens?
5. Is LifeSmarts available in my state?
6. When are competitions held?
7. Who can participate?
8. What is the cost of participation?
9. Who provides the competition questions?
10. How can I get involved?
LifeSmarts is a flexible classroom or group educational tool that develops the consumer and marketplace knowledge and skills of teens. The LifeSmarts program year runs on the standard academic year, August through April, to complement classroom curricula.
The National Consumers League operates LifeSmarts and works in partnership with other nonprofit and government organizations that act as partnering agencies that coordinate and implement LifeSmarts in each state.
Financial support for LifeSmarts comes from community-minded businesses, labor unions, government agencies, associations, and other organizations and individuals. View our list of our supporters.
LifeSmarts teaches teens to be smart and responsible consumers and citizens by focusing on five key areas of consumer knowledge that teens need to know to function effectively in today's marketplace: Personal Finance, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Safety, Technology and the Environment
In addition to the important information and knowledge that participants gain, they also develop teamwork, self-esteem, verbal communication skills, leadership abilities, and have fun competing. LifeSmarts changes behavior toward better decision-making and better use of money and resources. It provides teens with a good understanding of their consumer rights and responsibilities.
Because many teens begin work during high school, LifeSmarts helps them understand workplace protections, too. It teaches them to spot and avoid frauds and scams, and to make smart choices.
Brochures, booklets, videos, teaching guides, textbooks, Web sites, and other educational resources provided by governmental agencies, businesses, consumer groups, and trade associations are the source of this information that can easily be obtained by any consumer.
LifeSmarts is available to teens in every state through the Internet competition. For more information about your state's program, or to connect with your state's coordinator, visit your State Program page.
Visit the State Program Dates page for details. The online competition generally takes place from mid-September through mid-February. In-person state competitions are held from mid-November through mid-March. Regional competitions and the National Championship held each spring.
LifeSmarts is free and open to all teens in 6th-12th grade, and is available throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and American military bases abroad. The participation of special needs students, students with disabilities, exchange students, alternative schools, work study groups, home school groups, clubs and community organizations is encouraged and welcomed.
There is no fee or registration cost to participate in LifeSmarts! The players will need a few hours away from school and work for the state competition. If the team advances to the national competition, time away from school should not exceed two days. If a team advances to the national level, the state coordinator may help defray the team's travel expenses, but some teams do fundraising activities to attend nationals.
The National Consumers League provides questions for use in the online, state, and national competitions. Experts from all over the country prepare and review the questions to ensure accuracy.