The Foundation regards financial literacy for today’s youth as an integral component for making financially responsible decisions that will lead to a fiscally solvent life as adults. This includes understanding how money works, how to manage credit and debt, and how to save and invest.
Believing that it’s never too early to expose students to the importance of learning basic financial standards, the Foundation has begun offering interactive seminars in the form of reality fairs at the middle-school level, with eighth graders as its target group. The goal is to equip students with a better and more realistic understanding of how to handle money and expenses, deal with budget planning and grapple with wants versus necessities.
2018 Fair The first Financial Literacy Reality Fair was held in April 2018 at Wake Forest Middle School with 80 eight graders participating. The event was orchestrated by class members of the Foundation's 2018-18 adult leadership program, who volunteered their time and knowledge to fulfill their community service project commitment. They were assisted by other Chamber members with expertise in banking, finance, and insurance.
The fair began with each student given a specific set of profile characteristics, including a randomly selected profession, an annual salary, family size and certain amount of student loan debt. Armed with this information, they were expected to secure housing, transportation and insurance, and other real-life necessities such as food and clothing, as well as miscellaneous and unexpected household expenses. If they happened to find themselves over budget or in other serious financial circumstances, volunteers were standing by to guide them back to financial recovery.
One volunteer, Sam Norris from First Citizens Bank, labeled the fair a "truly eye-opening experience" for the students. He noted that many of them grappled with the difficulties of successfully budgeting for monthly necessities and making ends meet.
According to Corey Hutcherson, the Chamber's vice President for community relations and Foundation coordinator, both the school's administrators and teachers gave the fair rave reviews, citing it as a fantastic opportunity to experience what it's like to live in the adult world. Their enthusiasm was so overwhelming that plans for a 2019 fair have already begun.
Sponsorships for the 2019 Reality Fair are available to help pay for the cost of the setup and logistics, advertising, marketing materials and lunch for volunteers. Clickhereto learn more.