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CFPB's Cordray Participates in REAL Solutions Reality Fair in Texas
Thursday, September 8, 2016 6:55 AM

Carolyn Potter, PTA president, speaks with CFPB Director Cordray and Gail Hildebrand.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray was in the Cornerstone region this week to promote financial literacy and financial education. On Sept. 7, Cordray visited Lake Highlands Junior High School in North Dallas (Richardson ISD) where he observed a Financial Reality Fair.

The fair was hosted by Credit Union of Texas and sponsored by the Cornerstone Credit Union League. The National Credit Union Foundation enabled the connection between the league and the CFPB.

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 the basics of independent living, 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.

Jennifer Florence and the staff from Credit Union of Texas provided credit counseling at different life-event booths. Lake Highlands teachers and parents volunteered in the booths as well. In all, 797 students participated in the Reality Fair, which was divided into seven sessions so that every student could attend.

The students were assigned after the fair to write a memo of their experience, as well as their perceptions about their education and what they might want to do in the future with their education.

In an address to students, Cordray remarked, “Have you learned how hard it is to make financial choices? Ask your parents more

Lake Highlands staffer Syreeta Love greets visitors for the Lake Highlands Reality Fair, wearing her BizKid$ T-shirt.
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.

Keina Arlie, teacher of English Language Arts at Lake Highlands, 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 to Paula Upchurch, director of REAL Solutions at the Cornerstone Credit Union League which administers the CU4 Reality Fairs.

"We are grateful to Gigi Hyland for connecting us with CFPB Director Cordray's office so that he could join us for the Lake Highlands Reality Fair," said Upchurch. "And we are thrilled that we were able to offer our assistance to Credit Union of Texas who hosted the Reality Fair. We thank them for being such great hosts, supplying lunch for the teachers and volunteers, and for the gifts they gave the students. The seventh- and eighth-graders were very attentive, took the real-life scenarios seriously, and did a great job."

“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. “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 field hearing on youth and post-secondary financial education, organized by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.”

Cordray also asked the students, "What was the hardest decision?" One student answered that the hardest decision was downgrading their choices after realizing their budget didn’t balance.

About the National Credit Union Foundation (
The National Credit Union Foundation is the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement and works as a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions. Through Foundation grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes. Donations to the Foundation enable credit unions to help their members reach life-changing goals and achieve financial freedom.

The National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. The Foundation continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an Accredited Charity for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.