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MANCHESTER, N.H.-The parents of Mel Lawrence, an eighth grade student at Rundlett Middle School in Concord, N.H., may be happy to know that their son has a new appreciation for what they do. “I think a lot of us take housing for granted and [don't] realize that our parents have to pay for it every month,” Lawrence said. “Now I know why my parents have to go to work-doing all of this and taking care of three kids, it’s expensive.” Lawrence was one of 220 eighth graders from Rundlett School to participate in the first CU 4 Reality Financial Literacy Fair held on May 19, 2005, at America’s Credit Union Museum (ACUM). The fair was the culmination of a year-long program developed by members of the ACUM Financial Literacy Education Committee (FLEC) in conjunction with the New Hampshire Credit Union League. Through CU 4 Reality, students have the opportunity to learn specific financial management skills-such as how to calculate earnings, plan for expenses and maintain fiscal responsibility-as part of their school’s math curriculum. After completing their in-school curriculum, Rundlett’s eighth graders were given the opportunity to put their new skills to the test at the financial literacy fair-where they had to meet with real-life representatives from various local businesses and financial organizations and make decisions on how to allocate their “monthly earnings” for everything from food to luxury items. Also on site were credit counselors who could help students develop solutions for decreasing their expenses and investing their money. In addition, students had to take a chance on the Wheel of Fortune/Misfortune, where they might get a $100 speeding ticket, win a $1,000 scholarship or experience a $1,000 computer catastrophe that could affect their bottom line. “This shows you how to manage your money and that you really have to keep track,” said student Alex Pickering. “I didn’t realize food cost so much, and [because] you have to eat every day, it really adds up.” While other organizations have sponsored financial literacy fairs before, they mostly are geared toward older students. “We decided to go the middle schools,” said Peggy Powell, executive director of ACUM. “Being a senior in high school is almost too late to start [financial education].” CU 4 Reality also stands out for the fact that committee members and teachers are working to standardize the curriculum, in essence creating a turnkey program that can be used by local credit unions across the state or even credit union leagues across the country in conjunction with their schools. “The whole day went very, very well,” Powell said. “It exceeded my expectations, which are always very high.” “It was a lot of fun,” said John R. Young, president/CEO of New Hampshire FCU in Concord, N.H., who serves as a liaison between the ACUM FLEC and the league board. “I don’t think we could have orchestrated it any better. The kids had a good time. They learned a lot, and we learned a lot.” [email protected]

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