While President Obama was busy urging Wall Street, “To come up with creative approaches to improve financial education and to bring banking to those who live and work entirely outside the banking system,” Leo MacNeil, SVP of Community Relations at HarborOne Credit Union was celebrating another successful year of doing just that.
One of the many nationally recognized initiatives Leo has implemented in his tenure at HarborOne is the Credit for Life Fair. During the event, seniors from local Brockton Area High School engage in a simulation of what their financial lives might look like at the age of 25. First, the students select a career path of their choosing which includes information regarding their income, assets and liabilities. They then face a multitude of real-world purchasing decisions ranging from big ticket items like car loans and mortgages to credit cards and television services. Along the way, students are vulnerable to the many pitfalls that abound in the real world as well, like predatory credit cards with glitzy promotions and teaser rates.
(Click the image below to view video footage from the 7th Annual Fair held in 2007)
Leo credits the success of the event to the interactive environment and real-world application. To counteract the cost of staffing such a large-scale, labor-intensive event, HarborOne has established partnerships with community businesses and non-profits who help set up and run the situational booths.
Since the beginning, HarborOne has invited visitors from other locales to attend the Fair, see it for themselves and then attend an Orientation where HarborOne provides almost everything to outsiders who wish to run it at their venue. They now estimate there to be around 40 Fairs now running annually, most in New England. Due to the extreme popularity of the event, Leo recently held a “Best Practice” session this June where he brings multiple fair organizers together to discuss how the fairs have evolved and to help each other. It looks like it will be an annual event as well. To view reactions from student participants and volunteers, click the image above.