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Members CU "Mad City Money" sessions teach kids real-life financial lessons

Monday, May 19, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Hardin
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Two years ago, Carla Kimel of Members Credit Union looked for ways to provide a memorable financial education experience for school-aged students in the Winston-Salem area. As a result, more than 200 middle and high school students have received a crash course in being an adult through the credit union's "Mad City Money" program.

Kimel, the public relations director, and Andrea Blanton, the public relations assistant at Members, found themselves drawn to the "reality fair" concept as a means of helping students learn by doing. "We tried to develop our own model and quickly figured out we were re-inventing the wheel," recalls Kimel.

After connecting with Coastal FCU in Raleigh, which also uses the Mad City Money model as its experiential learning tool for teens, Kimel and Blanton volunteered at a Coastal event and had the opportunity to see how it worked first-hand. Members then purchased the Mad City Money module from CUNA and held its first fairs a year ago.

The credit union has taken its efforts to the next level during the 2013-2014 school year, reaching well over 200 students in multiple schools. Students are given a job, income and lifestyle profile and must make purchasing decisions over the course of an hour and a half.

Each student also has at least one child, and quickly learns how expensive children can be. "They ask us all the time if they can give their kids back," Kimel shares, "but we just say no, you can't do that."

The Mad City Money concept ties in neatly with the social studies curriculum in North Carolina, and allows students a hands-on experience that is grounded in the lessons they've received through the school year. Teacher Matt McPherson of North Davie Middle School says the program helps his students have a new appreciation for what their parents go through. McPherson recalls a past student of Mad City Money hugged her mom afterwards and told her, "please, don't let me grow up."

As the school year winds down, Kimel and Blanton are laying the foundation for expanding the program and its reach in the year ahead. As a result, more students will benefit from the credit union's commitment to providing a valuable financial lesson for North Carolina's future leaders.

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