On September 26, 2013, Lois Kitsch, National REAL Solutions™ Program Director for the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), participated in a Financial Literacy and Education Commission field hearing on Youth and Post-secondary Financial Education, organized by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.
Lois Kitsch (2nd from right), National Program Director for the National Credit Union Foundation, speaks about Reality Fairs at a Financial Literacy and Education Commission field hearing on Youth and Post-secondary Financial Education, organized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on September 26, 2013.
The Commission was established under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 and is charged with creating a national strategy on financial education. The FLEC is chaired by Jacob Lew, the Secretary of the Treasury, and Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is the vice chairman. The event was held on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison and featured remarks from CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
Kitsch was speaking primarily on NCUF’s work around Reality Fairs on a panel entitled “Building youth financial capability through experiential learning.” Reality Fairs are interactive financial literacy tools for high school students and have proved successful for many credit unions and state leagues. 26 states are offering students Reality Fair Programs today – fourteen of which can be tied directly to REAL™ Solutions. An estimated 10,000 students attended a fair in 2012 and that number is expected to grow substantially in 2013.
“Experiential learning is powerful because many people learn best by doing,” said Kitsch. “In fact, at our most recent Reality Fair at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, a teacher said he thought the students learned a semester’s worth of meaningful material in just two hours.”
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.
The full video of the field hearing is available online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jB2h0Z0Smk
About REAL Solutions®
REAL Solutions® is the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation. REAL ― “Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing” — Solutions works through state credit union leagues to help credit unions make the difference for members, families and communities.
REAL Solutions builds member and consumer financial capability by offering tools such as an online resource center (realsolutions.coop), product development, Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP – brought to CUs by the Foundation and CUNA), experiential learning programs (reality fairs, retirement fairs, & life simulations), planning/coaching, and speaking/training. Real people with real needs are finding REAL Solutions at credit unions.
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.
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.