NCSECU Helps Students Learn the Reality of Money
For the fourth year, Rutherford County Schools (RCSNC) students have been educated on the “Reality of Money” thanks to partnership with the North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union. Annually 8th graders at Chase Middle, East Rutherford Middle, and R-S Middle as well as career-bound seniors from Chase High, East Rutherford High, and R-S Central High take part in SECU’s Reality of Money program to increase their awareness and understanding of financial responsibilities.
SECU’s Reality of Money was developed by a team of professionals from across North Carolina, including Kim Hollifield, an SECU senior vice president located in the Forest City branch office. The team set forth to create a program that could be shared in schools statewide with the main takeaways of realizing the importance of a savings plan, budgeting, and maintaining good credit and understanding opportunities available with post-secondary education and training. In the program, students are assigned a “profile,” which includes their job, education level, and income. They then navigate stations that simulate various aspects of regular life, such as health needs and insurance, clothing, transportation, childcare, etc. They are exposed to the limiting effects of bad credit and the positive effects of saving, budgeting, and planning for the future. The profiles assigned to students are designed to reflect average salaries for given professions in North Carolina, while the stations reflect average expenses statewide.
According to Kim Hollifield, East Rutherford High School (ERHS) was one of the first high schools in North Carolina to see the program after its inception in 2013-14, making ERHS instrumental in launching Reality of Money to the rest of the state. The McNair Foundation has since partnered with SECU to ensure students receive this important educational piece annually.
To deliver the program, stations are manned by volunteers and staff members, which often include McNair Foundation staff and mentors, SECU staff and advisory board members, teachers, local community members, and parents. R-S Middle was the most recent school to receive the program. At that particular event thirteen SECU staff members from three branches (Rutherfordton, Forest City and Boiling Springs) and thirteen McNair Foundation staff and volunteers delivered the program.
When asked about the partnership, Hollifield stated, “Credit should be given locally to the Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation and Rutherford County Schools administrators for allowing SECU to deliver this important and practical educational event at the schools. The program is meant to provide students with another tool on their belt for success in the future. Our mission goes hand-in-hand with McNair Foundation’s mission so this has been a great partnership for putting on these events.”