Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School students take a “bite of reality”

Eighth-graders participate in financial education simulation and receive new mobile app/game

ONTARIO, CA (April 13, 2016) — Eighth-graders at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School got a “bite of reality” recently when they attended an interactive financial education simulation designed to teach them how to manage money.

The March 17 event at the Santa Ana, CA school was run by staff from Santa Ana, CA-based SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, all of whom volunteered their time. Staff from Santa Ana Federal Credit Union and Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School also participated.

The event was offered by the Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, with additional support from the National Credit Union Foundation and CUNA Mutual Group. Thanks to a partnership between The Foundation and Oakland, CA-based MindBlown Labs, Mendez students will be able to continue their learning via the Thrive’n’Shine mobile app/game, which has users go through a series of increasingly difficult financial challenges that mirror real life.

The Bite of Reality event 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 roughly 450 students were given a persona complete with occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. They then went shopping, “purchasing” items such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, and daycare. They dealt with pushy salesmen as well as unexpected expenses and windfalls to learn how to make wise financial choices. And when some overspent, those staffing the “credit union” station provided much-needed assistance.

Thirteen-year-old Diego called the event a good experience, saying “…it gives us a good idea of what our lives will potentially be like in the future. I was surprised at how little money you have left after you made all your purchases and buying stuff. This experience has taught me to not spend a lot; especially on cars.”

Allison, 14, agreed: “It really shows you how much things cost and how people really try to get you to buy more expensive things. The child care cost was really expensive, which was surprising to me. The best thing I learned was how to not spend too much money on things and also to realize know what our parents go through. This experience also really shows how it can be in the real world.”

This taste of reality is exactly what Tena Lozano, executive director of the RMJ Foundation, hopes young people take away from the Bite of Reality program.

“Having students experience making financial decisions in a financial simulation, gives them a better understanding of the challenges of adulthood without the real-life risks,” she said.

The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, founded in 1958, is dedicated to supporting credit union efforts in spreading the financial literacy message to young people. The Foundation offers the Bite of Reality program, a hands-on simulation program that teaches the basics of finances to teenagers. It is funded through donations from credit unions, League chapters, corporations providing credit union services, and individuals. More information about the Foundation is available at its website at


Photo caption: Staff from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union volunteered at a recent Bite of Reality event at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana, CA. Bite of Reality, a hands-on program, is offered by the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada. It is designed to teach the basics of finance and budgeting.

About California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

Headquartered in Ontario, California, the Leagues exists to help credit unions change people’s lives by supporting their operations, guidance, strategy and philosophy. Our trade association aids more than 260 local credit unions in California that serve 13.3 million members and manage $285 billion in assets, as well as 14 local credit unions in Nevada that serve 392,000 members and manage $7.7 billion in assets.


Matt Wrye
Senior Communications Manager
California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues
1-909-851-3935 or

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