The Texas Credit Union League has recently created two traveling Reality Fair sets for Texas credit unions to use and have already held six fairs in high schools across Texas since May. A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students that gives them the opportunity to participate in a hands-on event that guides them through the personal financial management process, including budgeting, saving and investing in a simulated real-world environment.
To help fund the initiative, the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) received grants last year from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF), and the Friends of Consumer Freedom.
Students shop for vehicles during a Reality Fair at Goose Creek Memorial High School in Baytown, Texas that was sponsored by Beacon FCU.
“Thanks to the grant funding, the league has been available to offer the traveling Reality Fairs to credit unions all over Texas,” said Mike Delker, Senior Vice President of Credit Union Relations at the Texas Credit Union League. “Through this type of collaboration, the dollars go a long way in helping credit unions demonstrate to their communities that there are solutions available for their financial concerns.”
“Financial literacy is a tremendous concern for families from all backgrounds in Texas and through these Reality Fairs, we will be able to not only raise awareness of serious monetary issues for students, but also pass that message along when participants relay what they have learned to their parents,” says Natasha Melugin-McAdoo, Director of the REAL Solutions program in Texas.
Earlier this year, TCUL created the turn-key fairs using materials from America's Credit Union Museum’s CU 4 Reality Program (cu4reality.org). The league then held six Reality Fairs in three schools across Texas since May, reaching almost a thousand students. More Reality Fairs are already scheduled for this fall and next Spring. TCUL’s Reality Fair is also going to be included as part of the orientation process for incoming students at a Texas college.
Watch a video of TCUL’s first Reality Fair:
“We are looking to offer more Reality Fairs in Texas and around the country through REAL Solutions,” said Lois Kitsch, National REAL Solutions Program Director for the National Credit Union Foundation. “We encourage more credit unions and leagues to use this effective financial literacy tool to make a positive impact in the lives of high school students in their community.”
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.
A Foundation Grant at Work
NCUF grants are made possible by supporters of the Foundation and the Community Investment Fund (CIF), an award-winning system of investments that help credit unions earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.
This “Grant at Work” is part of a series highlighting NCUF grantees making a positive impact in their community and empowering consumers to achieve financial independence through 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. 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 a real impact in the credit union community.
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.