Test Driving Adulthood: RCU Wins State Award
one local financial institution’s virtual financial literacy program is recognized for greatness
Creative educational thinking driven by the pandemic recently led to a statewide award for Royal Credit Union – and now the Eau Claire-based financial institution’s award-winning program will be available to students across Wisconsin.
Royal Credit Union received a Wisconsin Governor’s Financial Literacy Award in April for “Test Drive Digital,” a virtual version of its in-person reality fair, “Test Drive … Next Stop Reality.” Whether virtual or in-person, “Test Drive” gives teens a taste of the real-life financial decisions they’ll face within just a few years.
According to RCU, “This real-life simulation offers high school students a glimpse of what it’s like to manage a monthly budget at age 25. Using their chosen education level and career, students manage expenses such as student loans, insurance, housing, and groceries by watching short video lessons about each subject. They are randomly assigned a family status and credit score so they can see how these factors affect their purchase choices. Students make their purchase decisions and record each credit and debit on a digital income and transaction log. The goal is to get through the month without running out of money. Pre- and post-tests help measure knowledge gains and attitudinal changes.”
“Our team developed Test Drive Digital in May 2020 in order to be able to continue offering a reality fair experience to high school students during the pandemic,” said Brandon Riechers, RCU’s president and CEO. “The benefits of this program will extend well beyond its initial intent. The innovative design of the program and digital delivery have made this important financial education resource far more accessible and inclusive, and will provide an impactful learning opportunity for high school students for years to come.”
RCU was among 13 individuals and groups around the state honored by Gov. Tony Evers. Recipients of the Financial Literacy Awards were nominated based upon criteria that included implementing innovative financial literacy programs, demonstrating measurable results, and designing programs that are scalable.
Just a few weeks before receiving the award, RCU launched a joint effort with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to offer the program via Xello, an academic and career planning website operated by the DPI. Now, teens at high schools around the state will be able to test drive adult life free of charge.