April is National Credit Union Youth Month and National Financial Literacy Month—a time when credit unions in Maine and across the country educate young members about financial wellness. Traditional outreach activities often include in-person events like Financial Fitness Fairs, but the ongoing pandemic has limited our ability to visit schools. Fortunately, Maine credit unions now have a perfect solution!
To help credit union staff and volunteers adhere to state guidelines and social distancing requirements, the League has taken our popular Financial Fitness Fair and created an innovative, virtual platform that any student at any location can utilize. The virtual experience offers students a unique opportunity to receive the valuable budgeting tips they would get from an in-person fair from the comforts of their home or classroom.
How It Works
Maine Credit Unions’ Virtual Financial Fitness Fair utilizes Google Classroom, a service frequently used in school districts across Maine to create, distribute, and grade assignments. By seamlessly integrating with Google’s offerings, the Virtual Financial Fitness Fair provides a turnkey budget simulation that is personalized for each student. Even if a school doesn’t utilize Google Classroom, anyone with a Google account can participate.
What to Expect
The virtual experience closely resembles the traditional in-person fair. Students begin by choosing a career and are assigned a monthly income based on their career choice. Working with that income, students consider various expenses like housing, transportation, and student loan payments. Because each expense varies in cost, students must consider their options before creating a balanced budget. To successfully complete the online experience, which takes approximately one hour, total spending per month must be less than their assigned monthly income.
“At a traditional in-person event, students learn the value of budgeting and experience a preview of what funding their future lifestyle choices might entail,” shared Jake Holmes, the League’s Financial Literacy Outreach Coordinator. “Because this experience is so valuable, we knew we needed to come up with a fun alternative to help ensure critical financial education was still taking place. A virtual offering was our answer.”
The Benefits of “Going Virtual”
The Virtual Financial Fitness Fair is a remote learning tool that will help educate participants during this period of social distancing and beyond. Because the experience is self-guided, it is a convenient platform for schools following a hybrid model and for homeschooling families. Even when credit unions can visit schools again, this tool can continue to be utilized in conjunction with in-person fairs, making the popular money management experience more accessible to more students than ever before.
Throughout Credit Union Youth Month and National Financial Literacy Month, credit unions are encouraged to contact schools in their area and offer the Virtual Financial Fitness Fair. Credit unions also can share the remote learning tool on their websites and social media channels.
To receive Maine Credit Unions’ Virtual Financial Fitness Fair link or for any questions regarding the online experience, email Jake Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.