RMJ Foundation Unveils “All-In” Bite of Reality Toolkit, New App Tests

RMJ Foundation toolkit

The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation—the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada—wants credit unions to be “all-in” when it comes to the Bite of Reality program.

That’s why it recently unveiled a special toolkit to show credit unions how they can impact thousands of students—all in one day. The “All-In” Bite of Reality Toolkit came about, in part, due to Redwood CU’s Day of Impact, which saw the credit union use the Columbus Day holiday in 2019 to send all of its 700 employees to hold Bite of Reality events at 15 schools and reach some 3,000 high schoolers.

The RMJ Foundation's goal is for every high school student to have financial education to help prepare them for life after graduation. Its Bite of Reality program, now entering its ninth year, aims to teach young people the basics of finance by having them take a “real world” test drive complete with a job, money, and the freedom to make their own financial decisions. The participants must visit various stations to "purchase" items such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, and daycare. Those staffing the "credit union" station provide much-needed assistance when they overspend.

The toolkit provides tips, checklists, communication items, and sample materials so that credit unions can pick an in-service day where school is in session, such as Columbus Day, and have their staff participate in conducting multiple Bite of Reality events on the same day, at the same time.

An “All-In” event doesn’t have to be done by one single credit union; it can be done by multiple credit unions or even chapters, according to RMJ Foundation Executive Director Tena Lozano. It also can be defined differently depending on the credit union. For a small credit union, it might mean having all its employees hold an event at just one school, for example.

“I envision this as a growing effort,” Lozano said. “I see a handful of credit unions doing it in the first year. In five years, I would love to have 50 credit unions doing an 'All-In' Bite of Reality program on the same day, reaching 50,000 students.”

In addition to the toolkit, RMJ has added two new features to its Bite of Reality2 App—a pre-test and post-test. Before a Bite of Reality event, participants are asked five questions: “I would go to a credit union for financial help”; “I create and follow a monthly budget”; “When I want to buy something, I set a savings goal and save up for it first”; “I know how to track my money with a checkbook register/online banking system”; and “If I use a credit card, I should pay it back” (multiple choice question).

After the event, they’re asked the same questions—with a slight twist, such as “I will create and follow a monthly budget” and “I will track my money with a checkbook register/online banking system”.

The tests will measure participants’ changes in knowledge, attitude, and intention about finances as a result of participating in a Bite of Reality event.

“We’ll be able to have data that will show the value of reality fairs rather than just the number of participants,” said Lozano, who added RMJ received funding from the National Credit Union Foundation to support the effort to gather this type of data nationwide.

In 2019, Bite of Reality reached 29,398 students throughout California and Nevada via 250 events held by 64 credit unions. This year, 5,500 student have been reached so far in 45 events. In April—which also is Financial Literacy/Youth Financial Literacy Month—there are already 15 events scheduled. Credit unions that just began or will begin offering this program to its communities for the first time in 2020 include Lassen FCU, Self Help FCU, Sesloc FCU, and Southland CU.

For more information on the RMJ Foundation and Bite of Reality program—or if your credit union would like to hold a special event during Financial Literacy Month, please contact the RMJ Foundation at info@rmjfoundation.org.

Click here to access the "All-In" Toolkit.

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