DuTrac Community Credit Union in Dubuque, Iowa is placing an emphasis on the importance of youth financial literacy. In 2016, they collaborated with community partners to hold five Financial Reality Fairs at local schools to help bridge the current financial education gap. They did so through the support of a grant from the Foundation.
“The need for ongoing financial literacy is strong among many Americans,” said Andy Hawkinson, President/CEO of DuTrac Community CU. “It is an especially strong need among school-aged young people where limited resources and prescribed curriculum’s limit the teaching of basic financial skills and knowledge.”
A Financial Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students, helping 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.
DuTrac provided a one-day Financial Reality Fair at four local high schools and one middle school, reaching over 1,018 students. DuTrac’s Reality Fairs included 13 different booths to assist students in making decisions based on their income, real-life anticipated expenses, and working within their budgets.
“DuTrac’s Financial Literacy Fair addresses one of the most important skills students need to be successful in life after graduating,” said Colin Gisel, Business Education teacher at Davenport West High School. “The event has served as a kick-off to the step-by-step process of financial education and has sparked an interest for students to expand their own exploration of concepts presented at the fair. As a direct result of DuTrac’s Financial Literacy Fair, we’ve seen an interest in expanding opportunities to take courses in personal finance, corporate finance, and banking.”
Many of the booths during the fairs were manned by local community partners who could provide real-world knowledge and advice to the student participants. Some of these community partners included English Insurance, who assisted students with insurance pricing for vehicles and housing, and Scott Community College who helped students in the fair with student loan costs and career choices.
They also received assistance from Moline Public Library, John Deere Davenport employees, and participants from the United Way Days of Caring. Staff members of the schools and administration in which the fairs were being hosted also assisted in staffing each of the booths.
A student from Alleman Catholic High School stated that after attending the Reality Fair, “It gave me an idea of what adults like my parents have to deal with. It has made me realize how important it is to budget your money.”
“Students express sincere awe and thanks for the recognition of the investment their families have made to provide them with basic necessities,” said Hawkinson. “Many state they will offer suggestions to their families as to where they can lend a helping hand or help cut expenses. The majority do not have a complete picture of what or how much out-of-pocket expenses may be incurred in a post-secondary education life. It’s a real eye-opener to almost all the students.”
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