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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – When it comes to reaching younger members with education, fun is the best foundation. For the past two years Orlando, Fla.-based FAIRWINDS Credit Union has hosted the annual Who Wants To Be a Millionaire interactive game seminar and entire families want in on the fun. “We wanted to do something different than the typical seminar -something more hands on that people can relate to,” said FAIRWINDS CU Advertising/Public Relations Coordinator Marcie Hill. “I knew someone who was affiliated with the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad and asked him to present the concept of their game Cashflow and we played it and we knew this was what we were looking for.” According to Hill, the game plays like Monopoly but incorporates money management and investment with each turn. From how to get out of debt and take advantage of financial opportunities, to how to raise a financially savvy child the game session covers it all and relates back to members’ current financial situation. According to Hill, the response has been so overwhelming that the $744 million credit union may hold two sessions this year. “What is so great is that kids and their parents would play this game and you can see when they realize `hey I can implement this into my real life’,” said Hill. Over in Rochester, N.Y., The Summit Federal Credit Union and National Football League Oakland Raiders Tight End Roland Williams’ Youth Lifeline Foundation have accomplished what many would call the impossible -kids asking for longer class sessions. “There is such a need out there for basic financial literacy and personally I didn’t really know what to expect when we started this,” said The Summit FCU Vice President Community Relations/Business Development Cynthia Tucker. “But not only were the kids always on time and ready to get learning but also many didn’t want the program to end. What makes this all even more surprising is that we held these classes on Friday nights-right there that shows you how dedicated these kids were.” Williams launched the foundation in 1999 with a focus on giving kids what they need to succeed through education, entertainment and interaction. During the summer the foundation offers a free Football and Life Skills Camp. The foundation flies in 38 football players in the NFL who try to give them an idea of what life is really about and what is needed to reach the highest level of football. In addition to giving away 30 computers, each student receives about $400 worth of free gear. Students are only required to be disciplined, focused, and exert effort. Williams’ mother Karen Duncan-Lamar is the foundation’s executive director and after this year’s camp mentioned wanting to kick off a financial literacy program to Tucker. “As soon as she said it, I went and talked to our President/CEO Mike Vadala about it because I knew it is something he is very passionate about and that this is something that we would be interested in,” said Tucker. Vadala and the board readily agreed and the two organizations teamed up to develop a fun course that would cover the basic fundamentals of finance. According to Tucker, the Foundation was key to pulling it off. “The foundation realized that if you want to get kids attention then you don’t just do education but you marry it with fun, keep it interesting and exciting,” said Tucker. “It was also positioned as an opportunity to interact with other kids your own age.” Over the course of six weeks, volunteers from the $239 million credit union held classes at the Clover Lanes Bowling Alley and provided middle and high school students with an overview of basic financial concepts and how to apply them to the real world. Topics ranging from paychecks and establishing a budget, to understanding credit and investments were reinforced through rounds of jeopardy games. In addition, facilitators gave quizzes and prizes to students for doing their homework and reading the newspaper. “In Rochester, the business section is in back of the sports page, so a lot of the kids would read the sports then flip over to catch up on the business news,” said Tucker. “The program has different components first the educational then dinner of pizza and wings and we’d end with two free games of bowling.” Prizes included movie tickets, calculators, carrying cases and even an up-close NFL encounter for one lucky teen, who won tickets to a Raiders Buffalo Bills game and afterward went on the bus to meet one-on-one with Williams, Jim Rice and other NFL players. Twenty-five students were selected through the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, an organization that helps teens achieve success in school, at work, at home and in the community. Of the 25 that started the program, 21 completed the course. According to Tucker, 100% of those surveyed found the course to be very informative and would recommend it not only to a friend but also other students. Participants also wanted the learning portion to extend beyond an hour and include more computer demonstrations. Vadala is hoping to pitch the idea of expanding the program here or even rolling it out nationally with credit unions across the country. “We are very interested in continuing to partner with the foundation and would be thrilled to help with any future sessions,” said Tucker. “The vision would be to have at least one program every semester. ” [email protected]

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