Break out those art supplies and slap on your thinking caps, kids, it's time to doodle for dollars.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has announced the 2010 theme for its annual "Be Money Wi$e National Financial Literacy Poster Contest" open to students in the third through 12th grades. Designed to inspire on many levels, "$mart Money Choices = A Brighter Future" is this year's focus for the art and finance savvy entrants.

The contest will be divided into three grade categories: Elementary (3rd through 5th); Middle (6th through 8th); and High (9th through 12th) and submissions will be judged on "expression of the theme (40%), artwork style and content (30%), and creativity (30%)."

All finalists will receive a commemorative T-shirt, and three, national grade category winners will receive an award plaque and a $100 savings bond. In addition, the overall National Winner will be rewarded an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. with a parent or guardian and given official recognition in April as part of financial Literacy Month on Capitol Hill.

Rules, guidelines and submission information can be found online at the group's website. Deadlines for submissions are in February, 2010, however, exact dates vary by state. Click on "submission guidelines" and then select your state from the picture map.

Last year's winner, Leah Ellyson, a junior at North Marion High School in Carolina, West Virginia said her parents were the inspiration behind her winning entry. "They have taught me a lot about financial responsibility over the year," said Ellyson, "... For years my parents have set a budget for our family and we have lived within it. I see that they never spend more than they make, and they always stress to me that they only use credit cards as a convenience. The basic outline on my poster follows the common sense rules that they have modeled for me."

Referring to last year's theme in her acceptance speech, Ellyson said, "It remains to be seen whether or not I become a millionaire but I am wealthy in many ways; I have a family who loves and supports me, inspiration all around me, and a God-given talent that has taken me from drawing a picture at my kitchen table and turning it in to a great experience like this."

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