Chicago high school students, many from underserved communities, are gaining financial literacy thanks to the largesse of a local hedge fund manager.
Magnetar Youth Investment Academy was developed by partners at Magnetar Capital LLC, Evanston, Ill., with a simple mission: educate students in making smart financial decisions.
“Eventually, everyone encounters the basic principles of finance. The only question is whether it's a rough encounter or a proper introduction that puts financial principles on your side,” Alec Litowitz, founder and CEO, told the crowd at a recent academy fundraiser in Chicago.
Mr. Litowitz said Magnetar saw an opportunity to create a “focused, intensive classroom-based effort that really got the attention of young people when it mattered most: in high school, right before they head out on their own.”
Across the course of a year, 40 hours of classroom instruction are paired with a yearlong mock equity portfolio competition and a one-day stock trading challenge.
From a two-school pilot program in 2011, the program now is in 21 Chicago high schools. By the end of the 2013-'14 academic year, almost 1,200 students will have participated in the program.
Mr. Litowitz said he hopes to expand the academy's reach beyond Chicago to other major U.S. cities.
More information about the academy is available at www.magnetaracademy.org.