What goes up must come down. That’s the angst facing many investors in recent months as the longest bull market in U.S. stock market history appears on edge. This past fall, students in Lapwai, Idaho, got a taste of this angst by experiencing what investing pros call volatility, or what some might call a wild roller-coaster ride!
The senior class at Lapwai High School, Home of the Wildcats, competed in an eight-week online investing simulation known as The Stock Market Game (SMG), a national program designed to teach young people how to invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Students were separated into 13 teams that faced 65 other teams from high schools throughout the state. Each team started with $100,000 in fantasy cash and managed their portfolios as part of an economics class.
“The kids really enjoyed designing portfolios and checking stock prices every morning,” noted Georgie Kerby, Lapwai economics teacher. “Many of them invested in companies they’re familiar with like Nike, Apple and Walmart. It certainly was an eye-opener for them to think about publicly traded companies as investors rather than just consumers.”
The Lapwai SMG project was made possible by support from Nimiipuu Community Development Fund, a Native-led community development financial institution that serves the Nez Perce Tribe and traditional areas of Idaho, Oregon and Washington. A First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) investor education consultant added technical assistance and training, with support from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and Northwest Area Foundation.
“This is Lapwai’s second year participating in the Stock Market Game,” explained Nimiipuu Executive Director and SMG Advisor Jonelle Yearout. “We held a pilot last spring that revealed which investing concepts are most applicable to our students, along with strategies for maximizing returns. It paid off because this fall we had four teams finish in the top 10 in the state.”
Known for great basketball, both girls’ and boys’ teams have won numerous Idaho 1A-D1 state championships, the Lapwai Wildcats are embracing a new kind of success – investing savvy.
Victoria Johnnie was a member of Lapwai’s top SMG team that ranked second in the state with a final portfolio value of $103,548. Her team’s 3.55% total return beat the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by 9.3% for the same period. Moreover, collectively all 13 Wildcat teams finished as the state’s top-ranked school with average total equity that beat the S&P by over 6%.
“I really liked learning how to pick stocks,” said the 17-year-old, referring to winning trades on Amazon, Delta Airlines, Microsoft and Toyota, “and researching what makes a company worth investing in, fundamentals and trends. I only wish we’d had a chance to play the game sooner, freshman and sophomore years, so we could play all through high school.”
It’s no secret that 2018 was a tough year on Wall Street so maybe a few underperforming hedge fund managers could learn something from some super cool students in Lapwai, Idaho. Go Wildcats!
The Idaho Stock Market Game competition is a program created by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation in local partnership with Boise State University. It is offered twice annually in the fall and spring. As part of First Nations’ ongoing commitment to investor education, SMG aligns seamlessly with its efforts to financially empower Native communities. Many states offer state and regional SMG competitions similar to Idaho.
For more information on how First Nations can assist your school or youth group with innovative investor education solutions, please contact First Nations Investor Education Consultant Shawn Spruce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Shawn Spruce, First Nations Financial Education Consultant