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National CU Foundation Awards 12 Experiential Learning Grants
Friday, November 6, 2015 6:30 AM

Grants to Increase Financial Literacy through Hands-on Learning

The National Credit Union Foundation’s board of directors has approved 12 new Experiential Learning grants for 2015-2016, totaling $150,626. These grants are distributed to encourage credit union organizations to utilize experiential learning programs such as Reality Fairs, Retirement Fairs, and Life Simulations.

“We are excited to help fund these outstanding experiential learning initiatives,” said Lois Kitsch, the Foundation’s national program director. “At the Foundation, we’ve seen great success with experiential learning programs and we can’t wait to see how these Foundation grants change people’s financial lives in the year ahead.”

Experiential learning is the process of making meaning from a direct experience. Research has shown that most people learn best through experiential learning, or “learning by doing,” which is why the Foundation supports organizational efforts to start new programs or enhance existing experiential learning programs.

Here is a quick overview of the grant projects the Foundation is funding:

  1. Montana Credit Union Network will train their partners to grow a new Reality Fair program, hosting 10 events in the first year to reach at least 200 participants.  They will host these experiential learning events throughout the state for easy access and program success.
  2. Illinois Credit Union League/Foundation will conduct a two day Train-the-Trainer program for credit unions to offer Retirement Fairs, Life Simulations, Reality Fairs, and the Learning Map.  This program will prepare and encourage credit union staff to build and implement their own experiential learning programs. 
  3. The Charitable Foundation of the Connecticut Credit Union League is going to start a Life Simulation project by exposing 60 credit union professionals from 20 credit unions to the simulation during their Fall Leadership Conference.  Their goal is to increase the number of credit unions who offer Non-Prime Auto Lending, have a credit union commit to offering check-cashing services, and increase the awareness of poverty in the lives of credit union members.
  4. MUNA Federal Credit Union has offered a Reality Fair at a school in their local community, and due to its success they are expanding the program.  They hope to reach 800 students in a single Reality Fair and improve youth financial literacy.
  5. North Side Community Credit Union is going to start a Reality Fair Program through a partnership between local schools and employees.  They aim to conduct 25 Reality Fairs in one year, reaching about 1,000 students.
  6. High Plains Credit Union, along with local partners, will host a “Day of Reality” where both a Life Simulation and a Reality Fair will be held for 600 high school students.  This will create awareness for the programs, and help enhance the student’s financial knowledge. 
  7. Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation aims to grow their Reality Fair program by increasing the number of kits available to participating credit unions.  Their goal is to reach 5,000 new students in 2016 by hosting 12 additional fairs. 
  8. Richard Miles Johnson Foundation plans to add new Reality Fair kits to meet the increased demand for their “Bite of Reality” program.  With these new materials, they are hoping to reach 10,000 students which would double their reach in 2015.
  9. Northwest Credit Union Association is going to create a one day Financial Reality Fair extravaganza which will consist of multiple fairs across Washington and Oregon.  These Financial Reality Fairs will be hosted by 20 credit unions across the states to improve youth financial literacy in their communities.
  10. DuTrac Community Credit Union will grow their current Reality Fair program by hosting more fairs.  Their goal is to reach more than 500 students in 2016.
  11. First Florida Credit Union is going to increase the number of students that participate in Reality Fairs in their community by reaching 700 students.
  12. Guadalupe Credit Union will start a Reality Fair program within their community.  Currently there are none being conducting in the state of New Mexico, so they hope to reach 450 students in 2016 with this initiative. 

About the National Credit Union Foundation (
The National Credit Union Foundation (the 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.