Official Newsletter of the Illinois Credit Union Foundation
Volume 8, Issue 3
October 31 - Final Grant Deadline Approaching
The final deadline for 2011 grants from the ICU Foundation is October 31. Requests for
scholarships are taken on an ongoing basis during the remainder of the year, and
scholarships will be awarded while funding remains available. Application forms are
available online. Go to www.iculeague.org, then click on “League Services” and “ICU
Foundation” to access the forms.
REAL Solutions® Meeting Set For October 19
The ICU Foundation will hold its fall REAL Solutions® Partners Meeting on Wednesday,
October 19, 2011 at the ICU System Center in Naperville. There is no fee to participate, but
pre-registration is required.
The meeting will highlight three topics. First, Financial Reality Fairs are gaining in
popularity and to accommodate smaller groups or those with a shorter time frame available,
some credit unions have modified the large-scale fair to a classroom presentation. Nicole
Bateman, Business Development Manager at Land of Lincoln CU, will demonstrate the
program her CU created called iBudget.
Next, Kirsten Moy from the Aspen Institute will show credit unions how to use the money
management tools on the website AssetPlatform.org. Two of the featured items are
FamilyMint.com and MyJibe.com. Family Mint is an online replacement for the piggy bank
and allows families to use technology to practice goal setting, budgeting and saving. My
Jibe allows users to see all of their accounts in one place, like other popular websites, and
incorporates budgeting tools, scenario-testing, and real-time advice.
Last, a panel of staff members from four credit unions will discuss their student loan
programs. Find out about a variety of programs available to CUs including Student Choice,
CUStudentLoans.com (Fynanz), Corporate One and CU Campus Resources. Learn about the
benefits and potential pitfalls of offering this type of loan. Panelists are from Great Lakes
CU, Advantage One FCU, University of Illinois ECU and Motorola ECU .
The intent of REAL Solutions® is to help CUs grow by introducing a variety of products,
services and programs that increase membership, deposits and loans. The key to the
success of REAL Solutions® is ensuring the products, services and programs operate on a
break-even or better level.
There is no cost to participate in the REAL Solutions® program or become a Partner CU.
For more information contact Melanie Murphy at the League office at (800) 942-7124.
Financial Reality Fairs Give Teens A Taste of Real
A growing trend in teen financial education is an interactive event called a Financial Reality
Fair. Credit unions and chapters throughout Illinois are hosting Fairs in their communities.
Fairs allow participants to make mistakes—and suffer the consequences of their decisions—
in a realistic, but safe, environment.
"Teens respond well to the interactive nature of a Financial Reality Fair. Most of them are
surprised at how challenging it is to live within their means," said Melanie Murphy, ICUL
Manager of Member Services.
During a Fair, students assume the role of an adult with a career, income and family
situation (single or married, with or without children). They make choices regarding how
they will spend their money on life's needs, such as housing, food, clothing and
transportation, and wants, such as home decor, leisure activities, and optional purchases.
Unexpected expenses like car repairs and emergency visits to the vet as well as income
from outside sources like selling an item on Ebay or receiving a small cash gift are also
included in the Fair to simulate real life. The goal is for participants to have enough income
to pay for all of their monthly expenses with funds going into short- and long-term savings.
Fairs can be conducted in multiple settings, for assorted group sizes and for students of a
wide age-range. Fairs take place at schools, churches, libraries, and youth group meetings.
They attract large groups with several hundred students to small groups of 10-30 students.
Fairs are attended by teens, pre-teens and young adults aged 12 - 20.
For larger groups, the Fairs are usually held in a gymnasium, multi-purpose room or
cafeteria. Tables featuring the purchasing opportunities line the perimeter of the room;
adult volunteers operate these booths and take on the role of a salesman for the items
available at the booths.
Jeri Hanson, CEO of Danville Consolidated CU, has worked with the Danville Area Chapter to
host Fairs for the past two years as part of Money Smart Week. "We invite all the area
schools to participate and usually end up with about 300 students. We break them down
into smaller groups of about 100 and assign start times that are 2 hours apart. It takes
teens about an hour and a half to go through all the booths and balance their budgets, so
we simply repeat the Fair three times in a row on the same day," said Hanson.
As the size of the group grows, the number of volunteers needed also increases. "Since we
need a lot of people to work at the merchant booths, we ask people in the community to
help out. We get the car dealer to send a couple salesmen, the realty office to send some
real estate agents, and so on," said Hanson.
For small groups of students such as a single classroom of students one to two people from
the credit union can lead the activity.
Land of Lincoln CU uses the single classroom approach with a program they developed
called iBudget. "It's an 80-minute presentation that we teach in local high schools and
junior highs. We give each student a packet with budgeting worksheets, checks, check
register, and a profile sheet outlining their careers and take home pay," said Nicole
Bateman, Business Development Manager at Land of Lincoln CU.
At Abri CU, Susan Grask, along with the assistance of the classroom teacher, will bring
additional staff members to help depending on the class size and time frame. "We divide
the class in half and have the Auto and Housing merchant booths open, at the same time.
After students make their selection, they switch booths. Once those two major purchases
are decided, we open new booths to complete the simulation," said Grask. "It helps keep
things moving and enables us to do the activity with fewer staff members."
Another option is to pair all or some of the students and have them work together as a
family unit. "Most of the Life Scenarios we use give information about a married couple who
have one child. There is an added dimension when the teens have to negotiate with
another person about purchases," said Murphy. "It is easy to give your spouse a bus pass
or a small, used car when no one is standing next to you saying 'I'm not taking the bus to
There are at least four sources in the credit union community for materials: CUNA offers
Mad City Money, the Credit Union Museum offers CU4Reality, and the Connecticut Credit
Union League and Harbor One CU offer their own guidebooks. The programs and their
respective costs vary.
In addition to the credit union sources, other organizations have created similar programs
like University of Illinois Extension's "Welcome to the Real World" and Junior Achievement's
How Effective are Financial Reality Fairs?
The following are excerpts from a letter written by Rev. Gwendolyn Kirkland following the
Financial Reality Fair held at Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland.
"All of the feedback I received from parents and attendees was positive and full of gratitude.
Some of the comments were, 'Will you have the fair monthly or quarterly' 'This is stressful!'
'I am spending more on these kids than I am on myself.' 'My spouse made us run out of
money.' 'I got my husband a bus pass to balance our budget.' 'Can I take this house
During the fair I saw one young lady walking without a clipboard and I asked her where it
was. Her comment was that she had quit! I promptly responded, 'You can't quit life' and I
walked over to get the clipboard and help her adjust her budget! Another young lady
discovered that a $3600 trip to London was taking her budget into the red.
Parents stopped me the next day at church and said that they were so grateful and how
excited the youth remained on the way home. Many of the teens continued to work on their
budgets after the fair.
At church Sunday, I made an announcement and encouraged the parents to keep the
money conversation going. I think that the fair introduced positively the role of the credit
union as a financial resource to the youth.
Reading the evaluations I am convinced that they (the teens) got it! They were introduced
in a controlled setting to money management and they got it!
One parent of three boys shared that two of the sons worked very hard in school and
excelled academically, the third did not apply himself in his studies. As God would have it,
the two good students had professional level jobs at the fair and were able to acquire
upscale items and have a savings. The third son, who never studied hard, had a job that did
not have a high income and he was dismayed at the lifestyle he and his wife had and their
lack of money and nice things. The parent shared with him that his brothers had gone to
college and because they had, they earned more money and had more choices in life. It
seemed as if the light bulb went off for him and he realized the correlation between
studying, going to college and increasing his earning potential!
A grandmother brought her grandson to the fair. The grandson is due to receive a large
monetary settlement soon, at the age of 18. The grandmother was very fearful about the
receipt of the money by her grandson, as he had developed a laundry list of items that he
was going to buy including an expensive car! After the fair, the young man went home and
called his mother. He thanked her for all of the money that she had spent on him! He then
amended his list and changed to a less expensive car and included some savings for college!
The fair gave the teens the experience with money that no amount of lecture ever could!
The interaction without judgment made all of the difference. It was awesome to see the
teens really grasp budgeting techniques. You are doing amazing work!"
ICUL Conducts Reality Fairs in Naperville, South
The Illinois Credit Union League conducted two Financial Reality Fairs earlier this year. The
first was for about 75 teens at the Naperville Public Library during Money Smart Week in
April. The second was at Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland for nearly 100
teens in July. Volunteers from local credit unions assisted at each event.
"I came to the Naperville Library event because I wanted to experience a reality fair first-
hand since our chapter is planning to hold one later this year," said Denise Leonard,
Member Relations Manager at Generations CU and ICU Foundation Representative for the
Rockford Area Chapter.
"The fairs in Naperville and South Holland served a dual-purpose," said Melanie Murphy,
ICUL Manager of Member Services. "In addition to helping young people learn how to
budget, I thought it was important for credit unions to see how easy it is to coordinate and
carry out a financial reality fair."
There were about 12-15 volunteers from credit unions at each Fair so each of the ten
booths had one person assigned to it. Parents who brought students to the events were
recruited on the spot to help out in the merchant booths.
"A few parents asked if they could stay to watch the event at the Naperville Library, so I
asked them to help us out. We had one credit union volunteer working with a parent at the
booths," said Murphy. "It worked so well in Naperville, we did it again in South Holland. I
think the parents found it to be an interesting learning experience for themselves," she
"There are ways to modify the event to fit the number of people who are able to assist.
With fewer volunteers, you can open one set of booths for the early part of the session,
then close those booths and open another set of booths for the later part," said Murphy.
"The volunteers simply become merchants at a new booth."
For future events, Murphy suggests asking the host organization ahead of time to secure
adults to assist at the Fair using a ratio of 1 adult for every 10 teens. These volunteers are
in addition to the credit union workers. She also recommends using a microphone at larger
events so everyone can hear the instructions clearly during the Fair.
The host organization promotes the Fair, recruits the teens to attend the event and pre-
registers them so the credit union coordinating the event knows how many sets of materials
to provide. The host organization is responsible for providing the appropriate space in
which to hold the event. They also set up tables and chairs for the merchant booths along
with additional seating for the teen participants.
"I knew this was going to be a successful event when the phone started ringing off the hook
for the Reality Fair registration!" said Bobbie Rudnick, Business Librarian, Naperville Public
Library. "Most of the phone calls were from parents who said this was a great idea and they
were very happy to learn about this library partnership event."
"The South Holland church did a great job in promoting the event and getting teens to sign
up for it. They even did reminder calls to all the participants the night before the fair," said
The credit union or chapter that coordinates the event brings copies of the handouts for the
students, information for volunteers, and materials that are used at the booths. Other
items such as mechanical pencils, calculators, and clipboards for the participants to use
during the fair are optional, but help make things run more smoothly.
"Mechanical pencils are great because you don't need to sharpen them and can be erased
when the kids make mistakes," said Murphy. "The calculators and clipboards can be loaned
to the participants and collected at the end of the fair so you can reuse them."
The coordinating credit union or chapter brings materials for the merchant booths. Murphy
uses the Mad City Money kit from CUNA. She likes the kit because it is easy to use and very
Murphy took the pages showing the items for sale at each booth provided as part of the kit
and had a printing company enlarge them to 11"x17" sheets that are mounted on durable
Less expensive options include using foam-core board or poster board. "I also have a
couple of laminated copies of these pages at each booth for the volunteers to use along with
pens and a calculator," said Murphy.
There are "receipts" at each booth which are given to the students to help them fill in their
budget worksheets. "We use receipts to represent each transaction instead of having the
students write checks because I did not have enough time to teach check writing during the
fair. Besides, most people, especially teens, are used to electronic or plastic transactions,"
After the teens visit all the booths, they complete their budget worksheets and find out if
they overspent or not. The volunteers at the credit union booth can help the teens finish
their budgets and can send them back to the merchant booths to return or exchange items
they cannot afford.
At the end of the Fair, the session leader can ask the teens to share their thoughts on the
experience and to complete an evaluation form to help make future fairs better. "We added
an evaluation form so the volunteers can give us ideas to improve," she said.
"The feedback from the teens is great! Most wish they had more money or thought the
prices at the booths were too expensive. While the adults who work at the booths say the
prices were too low," said Murphy. "This is a wonderful opportunity to involve everyone in a
discussion about how much things cost."
Murphy created a new handout "How Real is Mad City?" which provides information on the
actual cost of some of the major items like childcare, transportation and housing to address
these questions. "I realize the program uses national averages from a couple years ago,
and the child care monthly expense was low for this area because $500 for a day-care
provider and $250 for grandma is no where near the actual cost," she said.
Scholarships & Grants Awarded July - September
The following credit unions and chapters were awarded scholarships and grants from the
ICU Foundation for the period July 1 through September 30, 2011.
Community Healthcare CU
Effingham Highway CU
Small CU Development Grants
Blaw Knox CU Decatur Postal CU
Bloom Township High School CU Northside L FCU
CT Community CU Ottawa Hiway CU
DB ECU St. Mark CU
Marketing & Business Development Grant
Altonized Community FCU NICE FCU
Chapter - Rockford Area Riverside Community CU
CSX Chicago Terminal CU
Community Service Grant
Financial Independence & Revitalization Effort (FIRE) Grant
Streator Onized CU
ICUF Annual Golf Outing
Thanks to everyone who participated in the ICU Foundation’s annual Golf Outing, especially
the sponsors of the event:
ICUL Service Corporation
Beverage Cart Sponsors
Federal Home Loan Bank
The Stewart Group
Proximity Contest Sponsors
Longest Drive Contest - CEFCU
Closest to the Pin Contest - Baxter CU
Longest Putt Contest - Selden Fox, Ltd.
1st MidAmerica CU
Area Educational CU
Canals & Trails CU
First Northern CU
Riverside Community CU
South Division CU
State National Companies
Three Rivers Community CU
Virtual Innovation, Inc.
Upcoming Events & Important Dates
September 1 to Foundation’s Annual Fund Campaign (our most important
December 31, 2011 fundraiser).
October 19, 2011 REAL Solutions Meeting in Naperville.
October 31, 2011 Deadline for final review of SCUD, MBD, Community Service &
FIRE Grant applications.
January 15, 2012 Deadline to apply for scholarships to attend 2012 CUNA
Governmental Affairs Conference. The application form is
distributed in the GAC announcement mailing.
To receive further information about grants or scholarships, contact Melanie Murphy at 800-
Application forms for scholarships and grants are available online. Go to
www.iculeague.org, then click on “League Services” and “ICU Foundation” to access the
forms. Click here for more information.
ICU Foundation Contribution Form
Click here for a ICU Foundation Contribution Form
Illinois Credit Union Foundation Board & Staff
ICU Foundation Board of Directors
Chairman - Greg Worthen, 1st Mid-America CU
Vice-chairman - David Mooney, Alliant CU
Secretary/Treasurer - Thomas Pierce, Midwest Operating Engineers CU
Geraldine Burek, South Division CU
Peggy Cummins, Three Rivers Community CU
John Fiore, Motorola ECU
Janet Francoeur, Riverside Community CU
Michael Lee, Alloya CU
Tom Lex, Heartland CU
Foundation Staff Information
Vicki Ponzo, Executive Director
Melanie Murphy, Manager
Mailing address: PO Box 3107, Naperville IL 60566-7107
Phone: 800-942-7124 or 630-983-3400