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In addition to the role you play in preparing students for jobs and careers, you also help prepare them to be responsible consumers. The economy needs productive workers, and it also depends on consumers, whose individual spending decisions, as most of you surely have taught in class, collectively account for two-thirds of economic activity. Consumers skilled in managing their finances are better prepared to weather bad times, and stronger household finances overall can help sustain growth, stabilize the economy, and mitigate an economic downturn.
Stabilizing the economy and mitigating a downturn, of course, also happen to be among the Federal Reserve's primary responsibilities. When successful, monetary policy can be a powerful and effective tool to these ends, but its capabilities are dwarfed by larger factors such as the productivity of the workforce and the strength of household finances.
By educating students and directly supporting their contributions to the economy as producers and consumers, all teachers, especially teachers of economics, are effectively furthering our mission at the Fed, so let me offer my thanks for making that job a little easier. To help support your important work as teachers, the Federal Reserve Board and the 12 Reserve Banks conduct programs, organize events, and publish books and other materials to spread knowledge of the role of the Fed--and economics in general--and to promote financial literacy.
Before I get to those events and programs, let me say a word about what is probably the most important pedagogical aid that the Fed produces--the page book called The Federal Reserve System: The 10th edition of Purposes and Functions, published in October of last year, offers a detailed and comprehensive account of what, why, and how the Fed carries out its different responsibilities.
I think it is a wonderful resource for teaching about the Fed, and copies are available via the Board's website. Each of the Fed's Reserve Banks has community outreach and educational initiatives in the areas of the country they serve, and the outreach to economics teachers is coordinated by the group chaired by Amy Hennessy, the Federal Reserve System Economic Education Group.
At the Board, we have for some years operated a program called FedEd, which sends Fed employees into schools throughout the Washington, D. Research assistants who volunteer for FedEd visit schools; help teach about the Fed, economics, and finance; and answer questions about work opportunities at the Board. The Federal Reserve is committed to promoting diversity in our ranks and in the economics profession, and FedEd has furthered these goals by making sure to include schools with significant numbers of minority students.
This past school year, FedEd sent research assistants into nine different schools and FedEd volunteers have visited 38 different schools since FedEd was back in schools last fall, drawing from 48 research assistants who volunteered to participate. FedEd also sponsors several speaker events a year that bring students into this Board Room. Students recently heard a presentation from Scott Alvarez, who oversees the Board's Legal Division, and, in February, Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer will speak to students at another event.
All three are with us this evening and prepared to answer further questions about the program. Online resources for teachers can be found on the Board's website at federalreserve. The websites include videos in which policymakers and the staff describe the Fed's functions. Also, the sites include historical materials and a wealth of information related to the financial crisis and the Fed's response.
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