Another Year of Success for RMJ Foundation

Bite of Reality
Chaffey Federal Credit Union CEO Kevin Posey speaks with Alta Loma High School senior Wade Jester at the “credit union” table about the financial choices Wade made during Bite of Reality, a financial reality program held on campus in October 2018. It was among the first Bite of Reality event hosted by the credit union. 

The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation’s Bite of Reality program in 2018 reached more students as well as saw an increase in the number of credit unions involved and the use of its app.

Bite of Reality reached more than 22,000 students throughout California and Nevada (an increase of 5,300, or 30 percent, from 2017).  The program, entering its seventh 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.

Some 198 fairs were held throughout both states last year. Approximately 70 credit unions hosted or co-hosted events, including seven that began offering this program to its communities for the first time in 2018: Altura CU, American First CU, Chaffey FCU, Cooperative Center FCU, Members 1st CU, Pasadena Service FCU, Schools FCU, and USC CU.

The goal for 2019 is to reach 26,000 students across the two states, according to RMJ Foundation Executive Director Tena Lozano.

In 2016, the RMJ Foundation—the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada—launched a Bite of Reality app, which streamlined and modernized the program for credit unions and the Foundation. The following year, it received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation to help build out the infrastructure on the app so others in the credit union community could license their own version of the app. BECU in Washington was the first credit union to license its own version.  In 2018, the Foundation offered an additional grant cycle for state credit union foundations, leagues, or credit unions to help with customization costs, Lozano said.

“Partially as a result of that grant process, during 2018, we added five new customized versions of the Bite of Reality app—both individual credit unions and other state credit union foundations,” she added. “For 2019, we already have three in development and several others in the early stages of planning.”

To help continue providing the Bite of Reality program to as many credit unions and students as possible, the RMJ Foundation will hold several fundraisers throughout the year, including the CU Train at the Los Angeles County Fair (held in September), the annual RMJ Golf Tournament (to be held Aug. 12 in Dana Point), and a silent auction during the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ REACH Conference (to be held Oct. 26-30 in Monterey).

“With the widespread adoption of the Bite of Reality App across the country—as well as additional California and Nevada credit unions beginning to offer Bite of Reality in their communities—more and more young people have the opportunity to get a better understanding of personal finance through credit unions,” Lozano said.

For more information on the RMJ Foundation and Bite of Reality program, please contact Tena Lozano.

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