By Bob Glowacki
This past summer we held the capstone celebration for our Milwaukee Summer Stock Market Game teams. It was the culmination of a summer of learning created through a partnership with EconomicsWisconsin, Asset Builders of America, United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County and the City of Milwaukee. Most of the teams were comprised of young people from zip codes with the highest levels of poverty in the City of Milwaukee. During the ceremony, we asked each advisor and one young person from each group to tell us about their experience. Many shared how intimidated they were at the outset. The language of investing was foreign to them. They hesitated in making their first trade, unsure of what to where to invest their $100,000 in virtual cash. Some hesitated to invest in anything at all, for fear of losing virtual money.
Then the light came on with the realization that money does not grow without investing. There was prize money involved too, two hundred dollars for the winning team members. They wanted to compete and began making their first trades. Through discussion and homework, teams made connections on how the pandemic was effecting the economy. One team chose to invest in online retailers who were providing goods that people needed. Another team put their investment in a drug maker who we all hope will be successful in finding a vaccine for COVID-19.
From there the young people talked about the lessons learned about the power of investing, compounding interest, the role of mutual funds and diversification of assets. They saw how wealth can be created and even potential career opportunities.
It is probably the hardest thing in my job to explain to donors and educators about the impact of the Stock Market Game. It is not just a game. Through competition and classroom lessons, it unlocks the mysteries of how our economy works, how corporations work and the dynamism of our markets. A reality is revealed that each person is part of that economy as a consumer, entrepreneur, investor and labor.
After a few speakers, I heard those magic words, “I want to learn more. I wish there was more time for the game.”
Gotcha! That’s what I love to hear. The old saying in show business is, “you always want to leave them wanting more.” These young people were not satisfied. They hungered for more. These young people saw opportunities for their future and dreams were forming. Dreams that feed a quest for knowledge. Dreams that can become career and financial plans. Dreams that fill a young person with hope. Dreams, I hope and pray, that will become a reality for each of these young people. For the price of $5.00 a student that is quite a return on your investment!