Inside the Foundation  
Financial Fitness Focus: The Influence of Reality Fairs
Monday, March 14, 2016 1:30 PM

11.jpgWe are just under a month until Financial Fitness Day, a day dedicated to raising funds for the National Credit Union Foundation and the Cornerstone Foundation, to support financial education initiatives. April 6 is a day not only to raise awareness for these foundations, but to show support for what they hope to accomplish:  improving the financial lives of their members and those in the community.

One important aspect of Financial Fitness Day is financial education, including youth financial literacy. The National Foundation and Cornerstone Foundation are using Reality Fairs, a hands-on experiential learning program. This experience allows students to identify their career choices and starting salaries, and then to complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food.

Today, 26 states are offering students Reality Fair Programs, 14 of which can be tied directly to the Foundation. More than 25,000 high school students participated in a Reality Fair in 2014. 

The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation is an excellent example of state and regional foundations using Reality Fairs. Last year alone, the Cornerstone Foundation helped facilitate 80 Reality Fairs, educating more than 4,950 students.

 12.jpg “Financial Education is very important to the Cornerstone Credit Union League and our Foundation," said Paula Upchurch, director of REAL Solutions at the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation. "Through CU4 Reality Fairs, our credit unions are providing a hands-on financial experience to their communities in their local high schools, boys and girls clubs and other community organizations. Seeing a student make good financial choices shows that they understand the importance of managing their money, and it is such a rewarding experience for all involved.”

With the support of credit union organizations, the Foundation is able to give out Experiential Learning Grants to help fund more Reality Fairs across the United States. This past year, they approved 12 new Experiential Learning Grants for 2015-2016 totaling $150,626, distributed to encourage credit unions to utilize programs such as Reality Fairs. There are many exciting things being done around Reality Fairs, such as Montana Credit Union Network who will train their partners to grow a new Reality Fair Program, and MUNA Federal Credit Union, who held a Reality Fair at a college in their community to improve youth financial literacy.

You can also visit our new Impact Map, and see state-by-state more examples of the reach. None of this would be possible without supporters; your money helps improve the financial future of thousands of kids!

We hope you will participate and hold a casual day on April 6 and show your support for you National Credit Union Foundation and for the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation. Together, we can continue improving people’s financial lives.