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RMJ Foundation celebrates successful 2017

ONTARIO, CA (January 22, 2018) — The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation’s Bite of Reality program enjoyed a successful 2017—with new uses for its app launched in 2016 and reaching more than 16,000 students throughout California and Nevada (an increase of 5,000 from 2016).

Some 174 fairs were held throughout both states in 2017. More than 60 credit unions hosted or co-hosted events, including two that recently began offering this program to its communities: Alta Vista Credit Union (Redlands, CA) and USE Credit Union (San Diego, CA). USE CU hosted events near its Davis, CA branch. Riverside, CA-based Altura Credit Union will be hosting its first event in January.

And several more events are planned for 2018 already. The goal for the RMJ Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, is to reach 18,000 throughout both states, according to Tena Lozano, Foundation executive director.

In 2016, the RMJ Foundation officially launched a new Bite of Reality app. It is believed to be the first of its kind for a credit union-sponsored reality fair program. The app streamlined and modernized the program for credit unions and the RMJ Foundation, making it more relatable to young people while still providing the same life lessons it always did.

In 2017, the Foundation received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation to help it build out the infrastructure on the app so that it could allow others in the credit union community to license their own version of the app. BECU in Washington was the first credit union to license its own version. It has been a great success story for both BECU and the Foundation so far.

“(The credit union) used it in October (2017) at its ‘Closing For Good’ event, in which the app was used to deliver reality fairs to approximately 7,000 students at 12 high schools all on the same day,” Lozano said.

She added the RMJ Foundation is currently under contract with two additional entities and in talks with several others.

“We hope to bring on several new customized versions in 2018, allowing even more credit unions across the country to add technology to their reality fairs,” Lozano said.

The Bite of Reality 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.

The success of RMJ Foundation’s Bite of Reality program also resulted in it being honored with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Kim Bannan Eternal Flame Award in the organization/credit union category. The award—named after the Leagues’ late vice president of credit union development and research and information—recognizes efforts that contribute to the success and future of “Shapiro Group” credit unions, which have less than $89 million in assets.

Lozano plans to continue to be involved in the coordination of several Foundation fundraisers, including the CU Train at the Los Angeles County Fair, the annual RMJ Golf Tournament, and the silent auction during the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ REACH Conference.

“The RMJ Foundation had a successful 2017, with the growth of our Bite of Reality program here in California and Nevada, as well as the capability to share our reality fair app across the country. In 2018, we plan to continue spreading the word about our programs and enticing even more credit unions to offer Bite of Reality in their communities,” she said.

For more information on the RMJ Foundation and Bite of Reality program, please contact Tena Lozano at tlozano@rmjfoundation.org, or by phone at 909.212.6057.

University of Redlands student Christian Curry talks with “merchant” Alta Vista Credit Union CEO RaAnn Wood on his options for shopping and personal care during Bite of Reality, a financial reality program held on campus in October 2017. It was the first Bite of Reality event hosted by the Redlands-based credit union. The 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 money management.


About California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

Headquartered in Ontario, California, 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 nearly 13.8 million members and those in Nevada serve almost 400,000 members. Credit unions are for people, not profit!

Contacts

Karla Davis
Vice President of Communications and Marketing
California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues
karlad@ccul.org

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