CFPB Director Cordray visits CU Reality Fair

Fair sponsored by Foundation, Cornerstone CU Foundation & Credit Union of Texas

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray attended his first credit union hosted Financial Reality Fair in Dallas today. The fair was held at Lake Highlands Junior High in North Dallas, Texas and was sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation), the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation and the Credit Union of Texas.

“For over a year the Foundation has been working with the CFPB and our colleagues at state credit union foundations to try to arrange a time when Director Cordray could come see a credit union Financial Reality Fair,” said Gigi Hyland, Foundation Executive Director, who was also in attendance at the September 7, 2016 fair. “Director Cordray attended a fair when he was at a high school in Ohio and noted it was a great learning experience. He first heard about the power of credit union sponsored Financial Reality Fairs from the Foundation’s Lois Kitsch at a Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) field hearing on youth and post-secondary financial education, organized by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.”

In an address to students, Cordray remarked, “Have you learned how hard it is to make financial choices? Ask your parents more about what they do to make decisions. This fair is a great opportunity to really see what life is going to be like and the choices you make in education and life”

In addition to Cordray, in attendance from CFPB were:

  • Julian Alcazar, Outreach and Engagement Associate;
  • Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director, Consumer Education and Engagement;
  • Cassandra McConnell-Tatum, Deputy Assistant Director, Office of Financial Education; and
  • Jennifer Stockett, Senior Advisor, Office of Financial Institutions;

Ms. Keina Arlie, teacher of English Language Arts at Lake Highlands Junior High spearheaded the Reality Fair at the school. She had the idea to pull together education around “real-life” money skills for the kids and reached out Paula Upchurch, Director of REAL Solutions at the Cornerstone Credit Union League.

The Reality Fair is 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. They prepped their profession a week ahead, kids researched salary, earning potential, education requirements and educational advancement.

After the students visit the various booths at the Reality Fair covering components of independent living, students balance their budget, and then sit down with a financial counselor for review. The students will write a memo after the fair with their experience and their perception of their education now and what they might want to do in the future regarding their education.

Cordray also asked the students, “What was the hardest decision?” One student remarked it was having to downgrade their choices after realizing their budget didn’t balance.

Last week, at a semi-annual meeting of the CFPB Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC), CFPB Cordray said during his opening remarks that credit unions are “pace-setters” when it comes to consumer education, and are leaders in youth financial education CUNA reported. In the discussion portion of the meeting, many committee members related how effective reality fairs are and the difference they make in helping kids really understand finances. They also noted that reality fairs help train teachers to feel comfortable teaching the topics covered in the fairs.


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