Financial Education is a core principle of credit unions, and the ICU Foundation has been a leader in helping credit unions provide this valuable information as well as consumer-friendly products and services to their members. The ICU Foundation connects credit unions with the best educational programs, the latest research, and innovative ideas to improve the financial well-being of their members.
Financial Reality Fairs are a fun, interactive way to teach young people the importance of budgeting and living within their means. The Reality Fair concept is a unique opportunity for students to experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own. It’s a hands-on experience in which students identify their career choice and starting salaries then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Additional expenditures such as entertainment and travel are factored in as well.
Throughout the fair, there are many temptations for additional spending, and students must learn to balance their wants and needs to live on their own. After the students have visited various booths covering components of independent living, students balance their budget and evaluate their learnings.
There are numerous sources for the reality fair materials, including Mad City Money from CUNA. The ICU Foundation offers the Bite of Reality App to ICUL-affiliated credit unions at no cost for use at reality fairs. Contact the ICU Foundation for assistance in presenting teen reality fairs.
Teachers who are responsible for conducting financial education in their classrooms are often intimidated by the subject because they have not received training in it. The ICU Foundation hosts Teacher Training sessions to help instructors become familiar with the topics and to provide guidance on the most effective ways to teach the materials.
Biz Kid$ is a PBS series of 65+ educational program about how kids make and manage money. The website contains a myriad of free resources: engaging videos, peer learning, inspirational stories, lesson plans, family activities, and more. Credit unions and the Illinois Credit Union Foundation use Biz Kid$ materials for presentations to schools and community groups.
There are two programs named Money Smart: an educational program from the FDIC and an event held during April by the Federal Reserve Bank. The ICU Foundation encourages credit unions to utilize and participate in both.
FDIC Money Smart – a financial education program can help people of all ages enhance their money management skills and create positive banking relationships. Money Smart has a long track record of success and includes traditional educational materials listed below, Spanish language materials, as well as a new set of online games “How Money Smart Are You?“
- Money Smart for Young People – This set of four grade-specific curriculums includes lesson plans and Parent/Caregiver Guides to help educators deliver basic financial concepts to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The FDIC developed these materials with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
- Money Smart for Young Adults (catalog.fdic.gov) – Each of the eight modules includes a fully scripted instructor guide that bankers and others without teaching experience can easily use to help young people ages 12-20 learn the basics of personal finance.
- Money Smart for Adults – This 14-module curriculum can be used to provide training for adults in many different life stages and financial situations including adults new to this country, adults with disabilities, adults starting or changing careers, and adults going through significant life events such as expanding their families or purchasing or renting their first homes.
- Money Smart for Older Adults – This curriculum focuses on preventing elder financial exploitation. The FDIC developed these materials in collaboration with the CFPB.
- Money Smart for Small Business – This curriculum provides information related to starting and managing a business. The FDIC developed these materials with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Federal Reserve Bank’s Money Smart Week – Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. The annual week-long event features a series of financial education programs offered in local communities. The event moved to a virtual setting in 2021 and plans to continue this format in the future.