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Riley Becker for the Win!

Fall 2020 1st Place National Middle School winner receives the Jacksonville, Arkansas City Challenge Coin from the Mayor!

New York, NY,April 19, 2021 – Riley Becker, age 12, from Jacksonville, Arkansas is well on his way to joining the ranks of some of the best financial legends in the world. The diligent 6th-grader defied the challenges of distance learning and cinched an exhilarating win in the SIFMA Foundation’s Fall 2020 InvestWrite competition, penning an essay on how challenges can create opportunities in the global economy and in life.


Beating out thousands of other students around the country competing in the middle school division, Becker, who attends Bobby G. Lester Elementary School, researched and composed an impressive long-term financial plan and now he is being recognized nationally. Becker will be presented with the City Challenge Coin by Jacksonville, Arkansas Mayor Bob Johnson in the Council Chambers of Jacksonville City Hall.


SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite national essay competition bridges classroom learning in math, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. It also serves as a culminating activity for The Stock Market Game™ a highly effective in-person, remote learning and hybrid educational tool in which students invest and manage a hypothetical $100,000 online portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash.


“SIFMA Foundation’s programs give youth of all backgrounds, especially in underserved communities, a real shot at financial independence and economic mobility,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “We equip and train teachers to offer essential skills and knowledge to their 4th-12th graders to navigate the capital markets and financial decision-making. To date, we’ve transformed the lives of 20 million students like Riley through learning that is practical and fun.”


The Fall 2020 InvestWrite competition challenged students to write an essay about how they’ve adapted to change at some point in their lives, how a publicly traded company has adapted to change, and how that company’s stock could be combined with other stocks, bonds or mutual funds to create a successful long-term portfolio.


Becker developed a plan that would have an impact today and into the future and wowed the team of judges with his essay.


The Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are offered in Arkansas through Economics Arkansas. “We honor and congratulate our InvestWrite winning student and teacher,” said Marsha Masters, Associate Director of Economics Arkansas, “Helping Arkansas students better understand our economy, our markets, the role of investors, and how to make good investments will pay dividends for the students, their education, and the Arkansas economy.”


Riley Becker and his teacher, Rick Kron, was honored by Economics Arkansas and the SIFMA Foundation in the City Council Chambers at Jacksonville City Hall, 1 Municipal Drive, Jacksonville, AR at 4:30 PM CT April 19, 2021.


Winning Essay by Riley Becker

Overcoming Obstacle Illusions


Booker T. Washington said it best, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”


I couldn't agree more!


Obstacles are often looked at as failures and can cause you to want to give up, but in reality, those obstacles make you who you are and help you become stronger -- the key to your future success!


In the past nine years I've had to overcome several obstacles.


When I was 2 ½ years old I pulled a drain plug on a fryer and hot grease poured all over me. After being transported to the children's hospital, doctors confirmed that I suffered full-thickness burns to over 25 percent of my body. I've had to endure 50 surgeries and have more to go. Having surgery has been both scary and painful but having the same doctors and nurses almost every time, as well as talking to my mom has helped me overcome the fear. Sometimes I still get nervous though, because I know that I'll be in pain afterward, but doing activities help me not focus on the pain.


Additionally, it's been difficult for me at school when I get bullied which has made me feel sad and self-conscious about my scars, but I cope by sharing my feelings with my mom and going to burn camp where I've met other kids who are just like me and understand what I've been through. Over the years I've learned that my scars are not what defines me as a person and that instead, I'm a burn survivor.


I believe facing these challenges help me now and, in my future, because it's given me a perspective in life. I've learned how to be more sympathetic, patient, and compassionate towards others while using my experience to show others how they can overcome obstacles in their life.


Through my tragic accident of being burned, I've emerged stronger and learned just what my strengths and weaknesses are and what it takes to be strong, courageous, and self-confident. I've come to realize that in life, no one is immune to obstacles and that we are all ¨scarred¨ in some way, some on the inside, some on the outside...my scars just happened to be on the outside.


After researching companies that took a big hit and overcame huge obstacles, Nokia really stood out to me!


Like me, Nokia has scars from its 155 years of existence. It has shown the ability to adapt to change from paper mills, tires, televisions to mobile phones. Nokia has been a leader in the industrial market and helped pioneer the mobile phone industry in the late '80s into the '90s, ultimately becoming the leader in mobile phone sales by the early 2000s.


Nokia's decline started in 2007 when it was forced to recall 46 million cell phone batteries as well as corporate leadership's slowness to adapt to change to consumers' growing demands. Unbeknownst to them, Apple was right on their tail as it unveiled its new touch screen phones and topped the leaderboard while Nokia's sales plummeted.


In 2008 Nokia’s profits tanked 30% as sales fell and between 2007-2012, they lost 96% of their market share. After losing billions, in 2012 Nokia was on the brink of extinction until Microsoft swooped in and bought their smartphone business.


This resurrection proved to be just exactly what Nokia needed to reinvent itself, although their comeback was tough as they had to restructure their company, lay off thousands of workers, and sell some of its other related divisions. In 2018 Nokia transformed into a successful supplier of network infrastructure for the telecommunications industry. Now, Nokia is back on track as a global leader worth $28 billion and the world's third-largest seller of mobile network equipment.


Nokia faced many obstacles and learned valuable lessons from their mistakes and emerged even stronger from the experience. This fierce determination proves that Nokia is a good long-term stock investment to add to my portfolio. With a Beta of just 0.57, it's a low-risk stock, not to mention it's very cheap now, just $4 per share! Although they only met three out of four earnings target goals and their past 5-year growth was a dreadful negative 6.3 %, their future 5-year growth estimate is 13.33%, so I'm not ready to write them off just yet.


To add to my portfolio, I like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Founded in 1969, AMD is a company that builds microprocessors for desktop PCs, laptops, and more. Although a riskier beta of 2.27, AMD met or beat its last four earnings goals and had a splendid past 5-year growth rate of 39.8%, with a 5-year future growth estimate of 38.2%.


To optimize my portfolio, I love Vanguard Total Index fund (VTI). VTI consists of large, mid, small, and micro-cap stocks with a 5-year return of 13.99% and a low-risk Beta of 1.04. With a turnover rate of just 4% and a cheap expense ratio of just 0.03%, I can't pass this up!


This trio of stocks would be a solid investment for anyone.


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About the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education

The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds, with a focus on youth. Drawing on the involvement and expertise of educators and the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunities across communities and increase individuals’ access to the benefits of the global marketplace. Notable Foundation programs include The Stock Market Game™, which has enabled more than 20 million students to become financially prepared for life, the InvestWrite® national essay competition, the Capitol Hill Challenge™, and Invest It Forward®. For more information on the work of the SIFMA Foundation, visit www.sifma.org/foundation.


About InvestWrite®

InvestWrite® is a culminating activity for Stock Market Game students extending their classroom learning with a written challenge to address real-world financial issues and situations. Students must analyze, think critically and problem solve about a long-term saving and investing scenario. Nearly 250,000 student essays have been evaluated by their teachers and over 40,000 financial professionals have served as volunteer judges. Essays are judged by financial professionals who volunteer their time each year to ensure young people are exposed to the essentials of personal finance early in life. Judges evaluate students’ understanding of long-term investing, diversification, the global capital markets, and factors that drive investments as well as their expression of investment ideas in essay form. Winners locally and nationally rise to the top to earn exciting awards and prizes including laptops, classroom pizza parties, trophies, plaques and banners, and certificates.

For more information about InvestWrite®, visit www.investwrite.org.


About Economics Arkansas

Since 1962, Economics Arkansas has been training Arkansas teachers K-12 how to integrate principles of economics and personal finance into the classroom curriculum. Economically savvy students become smarter citizens, voters, consumers and producers. We offer resources and professional development training for teachers throughout the year, and we invite individuals and organizations to become our supporters in our ongoing efforts to build an economically literate Arkansas, visit www.economicsarkansas.org.


About SIFMA

SIFMA is the leading trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers operating in the U.S. and global capital markets. On behalf of our industry’s nearly 1 million employees, we advocate on legislation, regulation and business policy, affecting retail and institutional investors, equity and fixed income markets and related products and services. We serve as an industry coordinating body to promote fair and orderly markets, informed regulatory compliance, and efficient market operations and resiliency. We also provide a forum for industry policy and professional development. SIFMA, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C., is the U.S. regional member of the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA). For more information, visit www.sifma.org.


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