Financial Capability Month has been a busy time for the Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation. With more than 30 Bite of Reality® events held across California and Nevada during the month of April, credit unions continue to show their commitment to financial literacy by ensuring the young people in their communities are ready to go out into the world with some understanding of the financial realities of adulting. Since the beginning of the year, credit unions helped host a total of 133 Bite of Reality events nationwide, reaching more than 17,000 students! The RMJ Foundation continues to improve and build on its highly-successful Bite of Reality program, while seeking new ways to bring financial education tools to credit unions and their young members.
Financial Counselor Academy
One of the biggest leaps the RMJ Foundation has made this year is partnering with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues to launch the first Financial Counselor Academy. The program is designed to provide credit union staff (from frontline to lending, collections, and management) with the knowledge and skills necessary to become certified financial counselors and assist members in achieving financial stability.
Participants who complete the program and pass the certification exam earn the Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) designation. This certification is recognized as a standard of excellence in the credit union industry and demonstrates an individual’s commitment to providing high-quality financial counseling services.
In addition to the training program, the RMJ Foundation and the League also offer ongoing support and resources to CCUFCs, including access to a community of certified financial counselors and professional development opportunities.
The first cohort have already taken their exams and attended an in-person capstone event on April 26. With approximately 60 newly credentialed financial counselors in California and Nevada, our communities are a step closer to realizing financial wellbeing for all.
The second Financial Counselor Academy session is just around the corner, and registration will open in May. For more information about the program or to participate in the next session, please contact Tena Lozano at email@example.com.
The RMJ Foundation is also preparing to launch a Life Simulation program which will provide credit union staff and management the opportunity to walk in their members’ shoes. A simulation intended to enhance the empathy with which credit unions approach their members, the program aims to create empathy and understanding by giving participants a taste of the challenges faced by people living in poverty.
During a poverty simulation, participants are given a set of circumstances that mimic those faced by people struggling to make ends meet, such as limited financial resources, inadequate housing, and insufficient food. Participants may be given a specific scenario to play out, such as trying to find a job or secure government benefits. During the half-day session, participants are asked to make choices and decisions based on their simulated circumstances, such as deciding which bills to pay or whether to seek medical care. The simulation may also include unexpected events, such as a car breaking down or a family member falling ill, which further strain participants’ resources.
At the end of the simulation, participants come together to reflect on their experience and discuss the challenges they faced. They may also discuss solutions and strategies for addressing poverty and improving financial literacy. For more information