In a bid to promote responsible financial education among young Americans, the Charles Schwab Foundation, the non-profit arm of the financial services major, has agreed to provide scholarships and grants to winners of the 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge, a 40-question voluntary online test that measures the financial knowledge of high-school students across the U.S.

The Challenge was created and will be administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education; the test-taking window begins March 7 and continues through April 8. Schools may register their students online at the special website of the Department of the Treasury, www.challenge.treas.gov

20 students selected by lottery from the top 10 percent of scorers will receive a scholarship award of $1000 each from the Charles Schwab Foundation.

Another five scholarships of the same amount will be given to students who score in the top 10 percent among all participating students from low-income public schools (schools where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches).

In order to encourage schools to urge their students to prepare for and take the test, the Foundation will also award $1000 grants to each of the 25 schools that the winning students represent, in recognition of the important role that these educators play in advancing financial literacy.

Launching the Challenge, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, If we are going to be competitive globally, we have to make sure all our students graduate high school ready for college and career...Part of that readiness is being able to make smart financial decisions, including whether to invest in higher education and how to pay for it.

Duncan expressed hope that more students would participate in the Challenge because of this generous scholarship opportunity, and more and more schools, too would take on this important topic.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation, also stressed the importance of raising financial awareness among students as an underpinning of lifelong financial health and well-being and added, It's a privilege for us to be able to reward not just the students who excel on the Challenge, but also the schools that do an exceptional job in preparing them for it.