Credit unions partnered with the Northwest Credit Union Foundation to celebrate National Credit Union Youth Month by hosting the 2016 Financial Reality Fair Extravaganza.
CUNA Mutual Group, the National Credit Union Foundation and MindBlown Labs also provided support for the experiential learning events, in which roughly 600 high school students participated.
As part of the events, nine of which were held simultaneously, students were assigned education and career information. From there, they moved through life situations and applied real-world financial management strategies with the help of educators, along with dozens of staff, volunteers and members from participating credit unions.
“It’s an opportunity for us to reach about 80 students in the community--many of whom have parents who are already members,” said Brooke Van Vleet, president/CEO of St. Helens (Ore.) Community CU. “There are some really interesting conversations happening. In this school, they do have a financial literacy curriculum. As a result, some of those concepts are already ingrained.”
At Sunset High School in Beaverton, Ore., 100 students from marketing and accounting classes navigated the financial reality fair hosted by Sunset Science Park FCU, Portland, Ore. Clackamas FCU, Milwaukie, Ore., USAgencies CU, Portland, and Pacific Northwest FCU, Bellingham, Wash., also sent volunteers to the event.
Many students figured out the key to a balanced budget was collaborating with other classmates to share expenses such as rent and food. A case in point: Sunset juniors Jasmine Jenkins and Carly Jackson.
Jenkins was assigned the persona of a pediatrician making a hefty salary.
“Everyone was trying to sell me the most expensive things,” Jenkins said, “and I said I didn’t need to be that fancy.” Instead Jenkins made practical decisions and shared costs with Jackson, who assumed the identity of an attorney struggling to get business and drowning in student debt.
“Honestly I felt like I was broke all the time and would not have money to pay for almost anything,” Jackson said. She was grateful to have a successful roommate and said the two of them even split the cost of adopting a cat.
Additional participating credit unions included: