MassHousing staff recently participated in the 16th annual Credit For Life fair in Brockton, the longest running event in Massachusetts where high school students are exposed to financial issues they will likely encounter when they enter the workforce.
Each year, there are approximately 45 Credit for Life events around the state and the Massachusetts Division of Banks and the State Treasurer have partnered to create a Financial Education Innovation Fund to help offset the cost of having these fairs.
"I am grateful to have been able to share my knowledge of housing and credit counseling with so many students over the years, and I am thankful that MassHousing has allowed me this opportunity that I feel very much aligns with our mission," said Maureen Moriarty from MassHousing's Business Development Staff, who has participated in every Brockton fair.
The Brockton Credit for Life Fair was the first of its kind in Massachusetts and is the longest running fair of its kind in the country. Over the years, MassHousing Homeownership and Business Development staff have participated in numerous events around Massachusetts in Brockton, Easton, Attleboro, Wareham, Hyannis, Quincy, New Bedford, Dartmouth Westport, Seekonk, Fall River, Chicopee, Springfield, Holyoke, Westfield and Ware.
The Brockton fair was started by Leo MacNeil, who is now retired from HarborOne Bank, and the Brockton Housing Partnership which includes MassHousing, Avon Cooperative Bank, Bank of Canton, Crescent Credit Union, Dedham Institution for Savings, Eastern Bank, HarborOne Bank, Mutual Bank, North Easton Savings Bank, Rockland Trust, South Shore Bank, Brockton Housing Authority, Brockton Interfaith Community, Brockton Redevelopment Authority, City of Brockton, NeighborWorks, South Shore Housing Development Corporation, Old Colony YMCA, Self Help and People's United Bank.
School administrators and financial advocates for students from as far away as Texas, California, Puerto Rico and many other areas have visited the Credit for Life Fair in Brockton and brought the positive life lessons back to high school students in their states. There were so many requests for information on how to run a Credit for Life fair that a Tool Kit was designed to help organizers in other states coordinate their own events.
Students, usually in their junior or senior year of high school, gain an understanding of balancing a life budget based on a career path that they choose. Banking volunteers, teachers and guidance staff from the school work with students often for months before the fair to help them chose a career path, give them a current starting salary and help them prepare them for what they will experience at the event.
Over the course of several hours at the fair, each student assumes the role of college graduate in the career path they have chosen. They have a budget that they have to balance based their monthly salary as they visit various stations with expenses for life's necessary expenses including housing, transportation, nutrition, furniture, clothing, insurance and education. The fair also confronts them with unexpected or unnecessary expenses with one example being a credit care where the 0% introductory rate balloons to 25%.