Educate, and educate early. That is our stunningly simple solution to prevent the "next" global credit crisis, as we begin the 12th year of Foolanthropy, our annual philanthropic campaign.

Many Americans find themselves under a mountain of debt, with too much house, too little savings, and too superficial an understanding about money. That is not surprising, because financial literacy is not a priority in our nation. Sixty-two percent of school-age Americans responding to a 2006 Jump$tart personal-finance survey received failing scores. Still, only seven of our 50 states require high school students to take a personal-finance course to graduate.

The lack of a basic financial education means many Americans are ill-equipped to make sound long-term financial decisions. And when one group takes uneducated risks - say, subprime borrowers wanting cheap credit to buy real estate - it can directly and substantially affect the rest of us.

In our charity drive this year, we are supporting DonorsChoose.org, a dynamic nonprofit organization that funds specific projects in public schools. Teachers from across the United States post project proposals, and "citizen philanthropists" (like you!) choose to fund the projects that appeal to them.

The partnership between DonorsChoose.org and the Motley Fool specifically will fund projects dedicated to financial and economic education. The teachers are already on board; they simply need the tools.

Through Jan. 20, 2009, the Motley Fool community at large will rally to make a difference in public schools and to eradicate financial illiteracy. Besides money raised from our community, the Fool will donate $10,000 toward the cause, and we will also continue our annual "My 2 Cents" campaign, adding 2 cents for every single message posted on any of our discussion boards (at

» READ MORE: http://boards.fool.com

), as well as for every single CAPS pitch (at

» READ MORE: http://caps.fool.com

), during the month of December.

Help us raise money by posting comments on our discussion boards, by making a CAPS pitch during December, or by donating money - whatever the sum.

Learn much more at

» READ MORE: www.foolanthropy.com

.