Around 200 teens in Gallup, N.M. recently got a taste of money management by attending the unique “Crazy Cash City” money-spending simulation on October 9-11, 2012. The event was hosted by First Financial Credit Union in partnership with First Nations Development Institute for local high school students, the majority of whom are Native American. The exercise – which was a test of a new pilot program – was intended as an experiential learning opportunity for students taking a financial literacy class this semester.
First Financial Credit Union received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to help provide funding for the event and local businesses and organizations provided volunteers to help staff the simulation. The credit union, working with First Nations Development Institute, adapted Credit Union National Association’s Mad City Money curriculum to make it suitable for a Native American audience by making changes such as updating the profile cards to reflect tribal employment, having photos of Native American individuals, and adding unique tribal revenue such as tribal dividend payments. They also updated the curriculum to work with a simulated debit card purchasing system.
“At the National Credit Union Foundation, we’ve found experiential learning activities such as First Financial CU’s simulation and Reality Fairs to be a resounding success,” said Christopher Morris, NCUF Director of Communications. “First Financial Credit Union’s pilot simulation is also a great example of making financial education engaging and relevant to your community.”
The purpose of “Crazy Cash City” was to give high school students the opportunity to practice good spending and budgeting habits prior to entering the “real world” after graduation. First Financial CU’s goal was to promote smart and informed decisions that will last a lifetime, which is crucial to Native American communities. Learning how to manage finances ensures that Native people will be more likely to save and to challenge financial service providers to develop products that respond to their particular needs.
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