Last week the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) held a Financial Reality Fair in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, DC for the second year in a row. A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students.
The fair was held at the Caucus Room of the Cannon Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 21, 2012 with about 40 students from nearby Roosevelt Senior High School in attendance. Many others stopped by to observe the fair, including Congressman Jim Himes from Connecticut and GAC attendees during their “Hike the Hill” visits.
Congressmen Jim Himes (2nd from left) from Connecticut stopped by the Reality Fair at GAC and is pictured here with (L-R): President/CEO of Members Credit Union Kathy Chartier, President/CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut Tony Emerson, and President/CEO of Northeast Family Federal Credit Union Joanne Todd.
Student responses to a survey after the fair indicated that almost 90% will start to budget their money every month and 100% of students said it changed the way they will save and spend money. When asked what they thought was the best information they learned at the fair, students responded with answers such as:
- “It was amazing!”
- “I learned you have to buy what you need first, not what you want.”
- “Don’t get stuff you can’t afford.”
- “I learned how to make a budget and a plan.”
- “The fair taught me how to manage my money to better meet my needs.”
- “Credit unions are the place to be!”
“We’ve seen over and over how engaged students are with this type of experiential learning exercise and now even more credit unions and leagues are holding their own reality fairs across the country,” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF National Program Director. “It’s a great fit for credit unions and youth in their communities.”
The GAC event was sponsored by NCUF with support and expertise from:
- The Credit Union League of Connecticut;
- Maryland & DC Credit Union Association;
- Congressional Federal Credit Union;
- HEW Federal Credit Union; and
- GPO Federal Credit Union.
Volunteer & NCUF Deputy Executive Director Tom Candell counsels a teen on her budget after she visited all the booths at the fair.
“Participating in this dynamic program is a wonderful way to educate high school students that the future financial choices they will make, matter,” said Charles A. Mallon, Jr., President/CEO of Congressional FCU, “Giving students a taste of ‘reality’ in a safe environment is one of the best ways I’ve ever witnessed to teach students about financial responsibility.”
The Reality Fair concept is a unique opportunity for students to experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own. It’s a hands-on experience in which students identify their career choice and starting salaries then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Additional expenditures such as entertainment and travel are factored in as well. Throughout the fair, there are many temptations for additional spending, and students must learn to balance their wants and needs to live on their own. After the students have visited the various booths covering components of independent living, students balance their budget, and then sit down with a financial counselor for review.
Click here for more pictures of NCUF’s Reality Fair at GAC.
Created with flickr slideshow.
Reality Fair photos courtesy of Sean Miller, Director of Marketing at HEW Federal Credit Union and Mark Lynch, NCUF Field Coach.
About the National Credit Union Foundation (ncuf.coop):
The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.
NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual Group. All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make financial freedom achievable through credit unions.
The National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.