Recently designated Development Educator Michelle Wallace, finance manager with COPOS CU in Trinidad & Tobago (TT), chose to create the Financial Reality Fair as her project upon graduation from CaribDE (Development Educator). The Connecticut International Partnership Committee donated a reality fair template based upon the Connecticut program. Volunteers from credit unions in Connecticut worked with Wallace to adapt the program for TT youth.
Going to Trinidad to assist with the inaugural Fair were: Joanne Todd, CEO, Northeast Family FCU, Manchester; John Keet, CEO, Personal Care America FCU, Trumbull; Carol Bayreuther, CEO, Hartford (Conn.) Healthcare FCU; and Barb Bass, vice president, Credit Union League of Connecticut. Keith Wiemert, CEO, Seasons FCU, Middletown, and Kathy Chartier, CEO, Members CU, Cos Cob, who were in Trinidad attending the CaribDE program, stayed and also assisted the partner credit unions.
CUNA Mutual's Gerry Singleton--also a recent CaribDE graduate and volunteer at Financial Reality Fairs during the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington D.C.--joined in to assist.
"This Financial Reality Fair was a success on so many levels," Chartier said. "Cooperation among cooperatives, collaboration between international partners, the Connecticut Reality Fair Program going global with adaption, and a CaribDE completing her project--it all came perfectly together. Bottom line: the biggest success was bringing financial education to the youth of Trinidad and Tobago."
COPOS CU, Neal & Massey CU, and CUNA Mutual Carib partnered to bring the fair to 140 students from six schools in the Port of Spain area. Several other Trinidad credit unions and their business partners, joined to bring the experience to TT students.
"The opportunity to experience a cooperative and collaborative reality fair with credit unions in Trinidad was fabulous," said Bayreuther, whose Trinidad partner credit union, San Fernando Community CU, sent four volunteers to assist in the fair. "The kids were so excited and it was obvious that they took the purpose of the fair very seriously."
The National Credit Union Foundation, through its REAL Solutions program, champions experiential financial learning programs such as reality fairs. It hosts the reality fair at the GAC.
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