Reality Fair at GAC “Eye-Opening Experience” for Teens

NCUF Showcased Interactive Youth Financial Education Experience

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. A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students.

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Volunteer Lisa Totaro talks to teens at the transportation booth at the Reality Fair at GAC.

“The Reality Fair was an eye-opening experience for a lot of these teens,” said Tanya Thomson, Art Teacher at Washington Metropolitan High School.

“It feels like the students learned a semester’s worth of meaningful material in just two hours at the Reality Fair,” said Landon Southerly, Math Teacher at Capital City Public Charter School.

The fair was held at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 with students from Capital City Public Charter School, Luke Charles Moore Academy, and Washington Metropolitan High School in attendance. Many others stopped by to observe the fair, including Members of Congress and GAC attendees during their “Hike the Hill” visits.

“The students learned so much at the Reality Fair,” said Vibha Robinson, Business Manager at Luke C. Moore Academy. “I wish I went through this when I was in high school!”

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.
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Volunteers Don Castle and Margie Click counsel a teen on his budget after he visited all the booths at the fair.

“The Reality Fair at GAC was another success in terms of visibility and engagement with area high school students,” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF National Program Director. “We encourage even more credit unions and leagues to hold their own reality fairs across the country. An estimated 10,000 students attended a fair in 2012 and that number is expected to grow substantially in 2013.”

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.


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, working to help consumers achieve financial freedom through credit unions. 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.

Description: Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity sealThe 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.