Breakout year for bite of reality

ONTARIO, CA (December 16, 2015) — As 2015 comes to a close, the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation is celebrating the immense success of its Bite of Reality program—which this year reached more than 9,000 students throughout California and Nevada.

Some 17 events were held in April 2015 alone—during Financial Literacy Month—reaching 1,722 youth. That was followed by another 12 events in the month of May, reaching more than 900 students.

Some 40 credit unions hosted events this year, including Bay FCU, California Coast CU, CalCom FCU, Delta Schools FCU, Desert Valleys FCU, Diablo Valley FCU, Eagle Community CU, Financial Horizons CU, Great Basin FCU, Greater Nevada CU, Kaiperm North Bay CU, Kinecta FCU, LA Police CU, Mattel FCU, Nikkei CU, Orange County’s CU, PostCity CU, Redwood CU, San Francisco FCU, San Mateo CU, SkyOne FCU, Schools Financial CU, SchoolsFirst FCU, South Bay CU, Thinkwise FCU, Wescom CU, and Xceed Financial CU, as well as the El Camino Chapter.

SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, CA hosted one for 435 intermediate school students in Santa Ana in March. That same month, Thinkwise FCU in San Bernardino, CA held one for the San Bernardino Adult School—a first for the program. Other large one-day event included Antioch, CA-based Delta Schools FCU hosting an event for some 300 Antioch High School students. Schools Financial CU in Sacramento was scheduled to hold an event for an estimated 354 students at Pleasant Grove High School in December.

And already some 18 events are planned for 2016.

“The Bite of Reality program has grown from just 1,285 students in our first full year (2013) to more than 9,000 students in 2015. We’ve reached a total of 15,000 teens since August 2012 and, for many of them, this is their first exposure to credit unions. We have plans for improvements in the coming year, and I’m excited for the future of the program,” said Tena Lozano, executive director of the RMJ Foundation.

“This program has literally made life changing differences in kids’ lives,” said Greg Bainter, member services manager III for Schools Financial CU. “Over the past year, Schools Financial Credit Union has partnered with several high schools in the greater Sacramento area to present the Bite of Reality program.

“At every event, we hear similar comments from the kids. ‘I didn’t realize how hard it is to make it on your own’. ‘I now know what my parents have gone through and I will be more patient with them’. ‘I wasn’t planning on going to college, but this program has changed my mind because I want to get a good job’. As an education-based credit union, Schools Financial is committed to the ongoing financial education of our members and their kids, and this program fits perfectly with that mission,” Bainter added.

“Bite of Reality has become a staple in rural high schools in Northern Nevada,” said Andrea Cavanaugh, director of training at Financial Horizons CU in Hawthorne, NV. “We conduct a minimum of five simulations each school year in four different communities.  Teachers are amazed to see their students fully engaged and taking the simulation seriously.  Yerington High School and Silver Stage High School have incorporated Bite of Reality into their Senior Success Day each school year.  We have had community volunteers helping us with Bite of Reality recommend the program to their children’s teachers at other high schools.  We no longer reach out to schools to bring Bite of Reality to them; school administrators and school teachers are reaching out to us.  We could not be happier as a credit union to promote youth financial literacy in our local communities with Bite of Reality.”

The program, which launched in 2012, aims to teach young people the basics of finance by having them take a “real world” test drive complete with a job, money, and the freedom to make their own financial decisions. The teens are given a fictional occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. They then visit various stations to “purchase” items such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, and daycare. Those staffing the “credit union” station provide much-needed assistance when some overspend.


About California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

Headquartered in Ontario, CA, the Leagues exist to help credit unions change people’s lives by supporting their operations, guidance, strategy and philosophy. Our trade association helps local credit unions in California serve their nearly 13.3 million members and those in Nevada serve 380,000 members. Credit unions are for people, not profit!


Matt Wrye
Senior Communications Manager
California & Nevada Credit Union Leagues
909-851-3935 |


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