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Reality Fair Technology Expands with National Credit Union Foundation Grant

Wed, Nov 8, 2017

Thanks to a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation), students attending Reality Fairs can use their mobile phone or tablet in place of pen and paper. The Foundation’s grant allowed the Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation to expand the reach of its new “Bite of Reality” App, allowing other Reality Fair practitioners to customize it for their own use. A Reality Fair (or “Financial Reality Fair”) is an interactive financial literacy experience for high school students.

“We developed and launched the Bite of Reality App in 2016 to modernize reality fairs, not just for the RMJ Foundation, but with the hope of expanding it throughout the industry,” said Tena Lozano, RMJ Foundation Executive Director. “The National Credit Union Foundation’s grant allowed us to add an infrastructure so we can share our technology with the rest of the credit union movement.”

BECU in Tukwila, Wash. was the first credit union organization to license the Bite of Reality App, customizing it for its own use, and that program was launched successfully at BECU’s Closing For Good event on October 9, 2017. Closing for Good is an annual event where BECU closes its offices so employees can provide financial education to high school students. In 2017, more than 1,800 BECU employees hosted financial reality fairs leveraging the Bite of Reality App at 12 local high schools in Puget Sound and Spokane reaching more than 7,000 high school students in one day.

The app-based program allowed BECU to reach more than three times the number of students reached in 2016. Click here for pictures from BECU’s Closing for Good event and click here for a video overview.

“Our goal at Closing for Good is to help teens learn how to manage their money responsibly and make smart financial decisions as they prepare for life after high school,” said Rachel Van Noord, BECU’s director of community outreach. “Our ability to customize the Bite of Reality app allowed us to better connect with digitally savvy students. We saw more engagement as students saw real-time financial impacts of their decisions as they experienced the event.”

“The Foundation has seen first-hand the profound effectiveness of Reality Fairs for over ten years and we are proud to facilitate the modernization of the Fairs to reach more students across the country,” said Gigi Hyland, Foundation Executive Director. “We also owe a huge thanks to CUNA Mutual Group for their generosity in helping to underwrite this grant.”

“Our organization strongly believes in teaching kids the importance of finances early to help them achieve financial confidence as they grow,” said Beth Cutler, CUNA Mutual Group Foundation leader. “It’s all part of helping people attain economic stability, and CUNA Mutual Group is proud to help sponsor this work.”  

The Foundation is currently working with the RMJ Foundation on plans to help reality fair practitioners everywhere access to this new resource to help more youth become financially capable.