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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 22, 2008 | Vol. 38 No. 4
More Md.-D.C. Middle-schoolers Managing Stock Portfolios

Johns Hopkins-based financial literacy program is expanding this fall

By Mary Maushard
Center for Social Organization of Schools

A bear market isn't holding back the expansion of Stocks in the Future, an innovative financial literacy program that teaches students about investing while bolstering attendance and class participation.

This fall, the Johns Hopkins-based program is realizing an 87 percent growth in the number of middle school-aged participants, expanding to 25 classes in 14 schools in Baltimore City, Baltimore and Carroll counties and the District of Columbia. Eleven of the schools are in Baltimore City, and one each in the other jurisdictions. The program will reach 750 students in grades 6, 7 and 8, up from about 400 last year. Seven schools are new to the program.

Developed at Johns Hopkins' Center for Social Organization of Schools, Stocks in the Future offers a scripted curriculum that teaches strategies for earning, saving and investing money, as well as reinforcing academic fundamentals. By attending school regularly and improving their grades, students earn "SIF Dollars" that enable them to buy publicly traded stocks, which they receive when they graduate from high school and turn 18. A student can earn as much as $80 a year to invest.

SIF board member Tedd Alexander, managing partner of Credo Capital Management in Baltimore, says he knows from personal experience that teaching youngsters about the stock market can help prepare them for the future.

"I bought my first stock at the age of 13, and that was the catalyst to my becoming an investment manager," Alexander said. "SIF can offer similar inspirations. It provides critical building blocks toward financial literacy that will benefit students throughout their lives, regardless of the careers they ultimately pursue."

At its creation, the three-year program targeted students who needed extra incentives to attend school and work hard, and was originally offered to just one class in each grade. This fall, Stocks in the Future will be taught to all sixth-graders in several schools. Classes are taught by staff teachers and take place once a week.

Johns Hopkins' evaluations of the program show that it can reverse a tendency toward poor attendance, with Stocks in the Future students attending school 10 more days than those in control groups. Seventh-graders who took part in the program scored 31 percent higher in reading, vocabulary and math than did students in a control group, and sixth-grade participants' scores were 18 percent higher in reading comprehension and mathematics.


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