New York City, Sept. 12, 2017 – Wells Fargo Foundation today announced a commitment of $500,000 to advance youth financial capability and inclusion across the U.S. This grant is designed to support the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite® program, a culminating national essay competition for The Stock Market Game™, which expands Title I school and minority youth participation in the program.
The announcement comes days after students and teachers from New York City public schools joined leaders from Wells Fargo and the SIFMA Foundation in ringing the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange. From the podium, they joined onlookers in cheering as Jon Weiss, Senior Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management, rang the bell, raising awareness of both foundations’ commitment to economic empowerment through financial education.
“Wells Fargo’s commitment to the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite program seeks to build a pipeline for financial capability that starts in elementary school, continues through middle and high school and prepares our next generation for college and careers relying on critical financial decisions,” Weiss said. “We believe Wells Fargo can achieve this goal by partnering with the nation’s leader in youth investor education, the SIFMA Foundation, given its reach of 17 million students to date.”
Jon Weiss, Wells Fargo Senior Executive Vice President of Wealth and Investment Management, and James Byrne, NYSE Head of U.S. Listings, join students from the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite program in the Closing Bell ceremony on Sept. 5, celebrating the commitment of both organizations to financial education. From left to right, students are Kevon Daniel, Mekhi Hernandez, Ariel Telfair and Mya Cox, all attending Cultural Arts Academy.
The SIFMA Foundation’s acclaimed national financial capability programs engage 600,000 students and 15,000 educators including in Title I schools each year with proven success in raising test scores in math, economics and personal finance. InvestWrite goes a step further by incorporating language arts and writing.
In The Stock Market Game, students invest and manage a hypothetical portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds and cash on a real-world trading platform while learning about the global markets. They develop essential life skills and workplace readiness skills such as teamwork, cooperation, research, analysis and decision-making while enhancing their core academic knowledge.
InvestWrite builds upon the Stock Market Game program with a student essay-writing challenge that strengthens English Language Arts and writing capabilities. InvestWrite participants compose an essay about a long-term, diversified approach to investing, incorporating creative writing, research and analysis, current events, market and industry trends, asset allocation and their key recommendations.
The Wells Fargo grant will help to provide elementary, middle and high schools nationwide with InvestWrite curricula, online and in-person teacher training, and academic standards and correlations. Given the grant’s specific focus on the Title I school population, specialized training and opportunities for teachers in Title I schools will equip them with the programming and materials needed to expand financial capability in their classrooms.
According to Vanessa Cooksey, Senior Vice President of Community Relations for Wells Fargo Advisors, the grant promises to sharpen students’ academic and personal finance skills.
“The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that millions of adolescents are struggling with low literacy skills and less than half of eighth-grade students are performing proficiently in reading, math and personal finance. This is a call to action for our country,” Cooksey stated. “By combining The Stock Market Game’s impact on math and personal finance skills with InvestWrite’s impact on reading and writing, Wells Fargo is working to improve the three Rs of education – reading, writing, arithmetic – as well as financial capability.”
The initiative includes developing a strategy to increase Title I school participants over the next four years with continued support. A multi-year commitment to expanding InvestWrite could see impact grow by 30-40% in four years for students in Title I schools.
At the heart of InvestWrite is the volunteer engagement of thousands of financial experts and industry professionals each year who serve as judges for the competition. Since the program began in 2004 more than 22,000 volunteers across more than 500 financial firms have served as judges, reading and ranking some 194,000 essays. “Through InvestWrite, Wells Fargo has an opportunity to offer young people a life-changing experience and imagine their futures in business,” said Jimmie Paschall, Executive Vice President of Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion & Strategic Philanthropy at Wells Fargo. “It is also a way for hundreds of our team members to volunteer their time with students, and provide financial tools and resources. With this grant, that number is set to grow.”
InvestWrite’s turnkey and rewarding skills-based volunteer activity is conducted entirely online and features a simple rubric provided by the SIFMA Foundation for volunteers to evaluate the essays. Winners receive exciting awards and prizes from SIFMA including laptops, classroom pizza parties, trophies, plaques and banners, and certificates. The first-place national winners in middle school and high school are awarded a three-day all-expense paid trip to New York City, the financial capital of the world, with their teacher and a parent.
After participating in the Closing Bell ceremony, students from the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite program gather outside the New York Stock Exchange with a check from Wells Fargo Foundation, which underwrites the program. Those pictured are: (l-r): Jasmeen Kaur from High School of Economics & Finance; Mekhi Hernandez, Kevon Daniel, Ariel Telfair and Mya Cox from Cultural Arts Academy; Fatoumata Jollah from Fairmont Neighborhood School; Franklin Saeteros from High School of Economics & Finance (top); Claire Pavlides formerly of IS 227 and now at Bard Early College High School; and David Covington from Cultural Arts Academy.
Wells Fargo is a leading proponent for financial capability, having served millions of individuals through its philanthropic and community investments. In fact, Wells Fargo’s Hands On Banking® program is a free financial education program for youth, young adults, seniors, military service members, entrepreneurs, as well as curriculum and resources for educators.
“The SIFMA Foundation is pleased to partner with Wells Fargo to expand financial capability and inclusion for more Title I schools, reaching classrooms and students that otherwise might not have this exposure,” said Melanie Mortimer, president of the SIFMA Foundation. “The SIFMA Foundation believes all students deserve a shot at financial success and bringing them the core knowledge and skills in partnership with Wells Fargo is an essential and very big step towards that goal.”