The Financial Reality Foundation (FRF) of Alaska recently used a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation to help credit unions bring financial education to high school seniors across the state of Alaska.
Through its Get REAL Financial Reality Fair Program, FRF reached 2,663 students, which is 34% of all enrolled high school seniors in Alaska.
“The Get REAL Financial Reality Fairs are a great example of the cooperative spirit of Alaska credit unions and a demonstration of the ‘people helping people’ philosophy that drives the credit union movement,” said Gigi Hyland, Foundation executive director. “At the National Credit Union Foundation, we’ve seen the power of Reality Fairs and are proud to support such a worthy endeavor to improve the financial lives of Alaskan youth.”
A Financial Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students designed to help them experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own after high school.
FRF offers financial reality fairs for free to communities through cooperation among Alaskan credit unions. The Alaska Credit Union League has been a major supporter in bringing financial literacy efforts state-wide by providing the Get REAL Financial Reality Fairs in their respective communities and membership areas. Seeing the enthusiasm from schools and collaboration from credit unions, Matanuska Valley FCU, Palmer, Alaska, was inspired to create FRF in August 2014, as a non-profit foundation to provide consumers the opportunity to learn about finances in a fun, realistic and memorable way.
FRF partnered with 11 of the 12 credit unions in Alaska to hold 44 events at 35 schools, with more than 300 volunteers assisting. Many of the participating schools are from what locals refer to as “bush” communities, meaning they are not connected to any major road network or ferry system. The students in these communities have a lack of financial education resources in comparison to the large cities that have participated in Financial Reality Fairs in the past.
The grant from the Foundation allowed FRF to bring these students from the surrounding communities into the larger cities to teach them about budgeting, saving and career development. Of the 2,663 students who attended the Reality Fairs, 35% of them would not have had this opportunity without the assistance of the additional grant funds from the Foundation and the cooperative engagement of the Alaskan credit unions.
Part of the funds provided by the foundation allowed FRF to create three turn-key packages for Alaskan credit unions to bring back to their communities and high schools to continue increasing the reach of the reality fair program.