Nearly 8,000 students participated in a Maine CU Financial Fitness Fair during 2016/17 school year - a new record!

July 11, 2017

Summer vacation may be underway but, thanks to Maine's credit unions, more Maine students than ever ended the 2016/17 school year with personal finance experience.  In just announced numbers, the Maine Credit Union League found that a total of 7,617 students participated in one of the nearly 50 Financial Fitness - Money Management Experience events held during the past school year.

Students and teachers alike lauded the opportunity to participate in the fairs, which simulate a person at the age of 22 and takes them through the experience of budgeting and making financial decisions.  "The fairs bring concepts that I teach in the classroom to life, and I see the value that students gain from doing it themselves," said a teacher from Thornton Academy in Saco, which had more than 400 students participate in the fair held at the school.  A student from Messalonskee High School in Oakland, which was the largest fair held in 2016/17 with more than 700 students participating, called the experience "eye-opening.  Managing money is a lot harder than it looks, and this fair helped me to understand that life is about sacrifices and choices."

Jon Paradise, Vice President of Governmental and Public Affairs for the Maine Credit Union League, said the commitment of Maine's credit unions to holding these fairs "is a testament to the importance of helping youth prepare for the real world.  The more kids are exposed to money management, the better.  The benefits of having a more clear understanding of what things cost and how to navigate those costs are that you increase the likelihood of kids becoming successful consumers as an adult."

In addition to the in-person fairs, usage of the new online version of the Financial Fitness - Money Management Experience that went live late last fall has significantly grown.  A number of credit unions are utilizing this customized resource with girl and boy scout troops, home schooled children and others.  "The online Fair has been a great addition to our youth financial fitness curriculum offerings to the community," stated Adam Caron at Atlantic FCU, who has worked with a number of school and youth groups on financial education, and been a frequent user of the online option.

Started by the Maine CU League and Maine's credit unions in 2004, more than 250 fairs have been held and more than 45,000 students have participated in one of the fairs. 

The Financial Fitness - A Money Management Experience Fair has won numerous awards and been a significant reason why the Maine CU League is a 14-time recipient of the national Desjardins Award for Youth Financial Education.

For more information on Financial Education initiatives offered and coordinated by the League and Maine's credit unions, please click here.