ONTARIO, Calif. (12/18/15)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation Bite of Reality program, based on the National Credit Union Foundation’s successful reality fair concept, this year reached more than 9,000 students throughout California and Nevada.
“The Bite of Reality program has grown from just 1,285 students in our first full year (2013) to more than 9,000 students in 2015,” said Tena Lozano, executive director of the RMJ Foundation, which provides financial education resources for credit unions in California and Nevada. “We’ve reached a total of 15,000 teens since August 2012 and, for many of them, this is their first exposure to credit unions. We have plans for improvements in the coming year, and I’m excited for the future of the program.”
The program, which launched in 2012, aims to teach young people the basics of finance by having them host reality fairs, which offer a real-world “test drive” with a job, money and the freedom to make financial decisions.
The teens are given a fictional occupation, salary, spouse and family, student-loan debt, credit-card debt, and medical insurance payments. They then visit various stations to "purchase" items such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities and day care. Those staffing the "credit union" station provide much-needed assistance when some overspend.
Seventeen events were held in April--Financial Literacy Month--alone, reaching 1,722 children. Another 12 events were held in May, reaching more than 900 students.
Some 40 credit unions hosted events this year. SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., hosted one event for 435 intermediate school students in March. That same month, Thinkwise FCU, San Bernardino, Calif., held a fair for the San Bernardino Adult School. The session for adults was a first for the program.
Other large one-day events included a fair hosted by Antioch, Calif.-based Delta Schools FCU for 300 high school students. Schools Financial CU, Sacramento, Calif., is scheduled to hold an event for an estimated 354 students at Pleasant Grove High School this month.
Already 18 events are planned for 2016.