Northwest Credit Unions Partner With NWCUF and National Groups to Host Financial Reality Fairs Across Region

The phrase “preparation is the key to success” was on full display recently at high schools around the Northwest.

Credit unions—with support from CUNA Mutual Group, the National Credit Union Foundation and MindBlown Labs—partnered with the Northwest Credit Union Foundation for the 2016 Financial Reality Fair Extravaganza, where approximately 600 high school students took part in Financial Reality Fairs.

As part of the events, nine of which were held simultaneously, students were assigned education and career information. From there, they moved through life situations and applied real world financial management strategies with the help of educators, along with dozens of staff, volunteers and members from participating credit unions.

“It’s an opportunity for us to reach about 80 students in the community—many of whom have parents who are already members. We have about 25 volunteers here today, including members of the credit union, and our board,” noted St. Helens Community Credit Union President and CEO Brooke Van Vleet. “There are some really interesting conversations happening. In this school, they do have a financial literacy curriculum. As a result, some of those concepts are already ingrained.”

At Sunset High School in Beaverton, 100 students from marketing and accounting classes navigated the Financial Reality Fair hosted by Sunset Science Park Federal Credit Union. Clackamas Federal Credit Union, USAgencies Credit Union and Pacific Northwest Federal Credit Union also sent volunteers to the Sunset event.

Many students figured out the key to a balanced budget was collaborating with other classmates to share expenses such as rent and food. A case in point: Sunset Juniors Jasmine Jenkins and Carly Jackson.

Jenkins was assigned the persona of a pediatrician making a hefty salary.

“Everyone was trying to sell me the most expensive things,” Jenkins said, “and I said I didn’t need to be that fancy.”  Instead Jenkins made practical decisions and shared costs with Jackson, who attended the Financial Reality Fair as an attorney struggling to get business, and drowning in student debt.

“Honestly I felt like I was broke all the time and would not have money to pay for almost anything,” Jackson noted. She was grateful to have a successful roommate and said the two of them even split the cost of adopting a cat.

The part time jobs table, hosted by Clackamas Federal Credit Union President and CEO and NWCUF Board Member Mary Greco, provided additional solutions for students who balanced their budget.

Credit union professionals serving as volunteers said student after student discovered their needs had to come before their wants.

“Schools unfortunately don’t have much financial education built into their curriculum,” noted Rhonda Baggarley, President of Sunset Science Park Federal Credit Union. “Credit unions are able to fill that gap for them.”

Additional participating credit unions included:

Click here for more images from the events.

For more information on NWCUF efforts, contact NWCUF Managing Director Jamie Dedmon at 206.340.4814 or

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222,

Posted in Federal, NWCUA.