Yesterday, local high school students competed in the inaugural Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge with a Yuba City High School Honors Economics class cleaning up in first and second place!

Yuba City High School winning team with teacher and me (the JA Volunteer)

Preparing for the event required community volunteers teaching students in their classrooms about the basic concepts and importance of investing in publicly traded companies.  So what does this have to do with Real Estate since this is a Real Estate blog?  As a Realtor, I see many young adults who could be buying a home struggling with a debt load for depreciable assets like cars and consumables with car loans, credit card debt, and even collection accounts! Experiencing the thrill of simulating investing $1M in stocks gave kids another perspective – that of spending on appreciable assets.

I’m a huge proponent of the Junior Achievement programs designed to teach financial literacy and workplace readiness.  So when Susan Nelson, the President of the Sacramento Chapter of Junior Achievement (JA) asked me to help prepare for this new educational unit, I jumped at the chance.  In my past career at Intel Corporation, I volunteered to recruit Intel employees to teach JA’s engaging modules of personal financial concepts to K-12 students in the classroom.   We had many rewarding opportunities teaching at many different grade levels.  Not only did the units teach students workplace readiness such as interviewing do’s and don’ts to high school students, we taught basic concepts about debt and spending to middle schoolers, and even supply chain concepts to elementary school students with fun, hands-on lessons.

This brand new, fast-paced stock market challenge was designed to educate and promote awareness about how participation in our free market system could begin to build wealth for the individual.  Between community volunteers and teachers, we taught the concepts of the stock market and strategies for the simulation several weeks prior to yesterday’s event.  The students were grouped in teams and had to make informed decisions based on news, earnings, and events for a simulation that ran a 60-day course in just a couple of hours.  Cameron, one of the competing students, remarked, “It was fun and I feel actually understand the stock market now.”  Jon, another participant, said, “it was a blast…and would love to do it again!”  No matter the outcome, the students came away with a great gained a greater understanding just by participating as confirmed by Maya who said, “Although we didn’t do well I feel it was worth every second, since I now can say I understand the stock market.”  It was a great primer on the stock market that most kids would never learn from a book!

A lot of employers (like Intel) encourage employees to volunteer in their communities and I’d like to encourage you to volunteer for Junior Achievement.  It’s not just for the kids.  I love teaching because I know that financial literacy empowers people. It’s a kick to watch the kids go from expecting things to be a snooze to siting up in their seat with eyes lit with discovery. Honors Economics teacher, Derek Moore, from Yuba City High School (with two winning teams) told me that it was an “Amazing experience for students who normally would receive no financial literacy in school. This event made students critically think about real situations and their effect on the market. I feel my students are leaving with a better understanding of how the stock market works and are better prepared to invest in the future”.  Junior Achievement makes a difference for students.

Junior Achievement USA is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices.  JA is a non-profit that depends 100% on community volunteers and monetary donations to deliver these great programs in the classrooms.  Believe it or not, JA started in 1919 in Massachusetts by two businessmen who recognized that kids weren’t learning about the workplace in schools.

Donate today and/or Volunteer in the classroom.  It’s so rewarding!  It’s true, The best way to learn is to teach! ~ Frank Oppenheimer