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Investing in the Future

“What’s the riskiest thing to do from this list: Play soccer without shin guards? Play softball without a helmet? Bike without a helmet during rush hour? Or, drive with no seatbelt on a quiet country road?” So begins an animated discussion on risk and return for budding financial gurus in the Lower School, led by parent Tina Taylor.

The Lower School Investment Club, now in its second year, was created for the 2018-19 school year as a pilot program by Taylor, a CPA with over 15 years of finance and professional services experience, and Head of Lower School Erin Harper. This year, it’s an Extended Day program known as “Kid$ Kash,” and the course introduces fourth- and fifth-grade students to the world of investing in a public company.

Students learn to identify the levels of risk involved in investing and how risk impacts those decisions. Additionally, students learn how to research, analyze, and create a portfolio of stocks while they work in collaborative groups and manage a hypothetical stock portfolio.

The idea came to Taylor at the Parents’ Association 2017 Annual Auction when she saw a group of Upper School boys raise $100,000 in less than ten minutes to support a student investment club. “I thought it was amazing,” she says.

The money established a student-run Investment Board that allocates earnings to a student-run Foundation Board. (The Foundation Board distributes funds as a grant-making organization with a goal of aiding student groups from all three divisions. In 2018-19, the first grant from the Foundation Board of $500 was awarded to the Senior Class Gift Committee, which decided to put all of their efforts toward funding the Deven Sawyer Fund.)

When Taylor approached Harper with the idea, Taylor’s initial thought was: “I wanted to start a girls’ investment club because I have a daughter. It’s a very male-dominated industry and I felt that through my experience if you wait until Upper School to introduce investing concepts, the girls do not always feel as comfortable getting involved. Introducing the concepts at a Lower School level would level the playing field with the boys and the girls.” National trends confirm a gender gap - 46 percent of financial services employees are women, but at the executive level, the number shrinks to 15 percent, reports Forbes.com.

Harper and the administration fully supported the program and it piloted with a group of 21 girls and 19 boys in fourth and fifth grades. Taylor expresses a lot of gratitude toward Harper for her support: “The fact that she did not hesitate to take a parent up on this idea says so much about the partnership the school has with parents,” Taylor says.

“Adopting the Lower School Investment Club was an easy decision for me to make as a leader when I was approached by Tina about this exceptional opportunity,” says Harper. “I'm a strong believer that teaching investment skills young helps to equip our students with the foundational tools needed to lead successful, independent lives as young adults. Our students soaked up this opportunity.”

The students were divided into two groups which followed the same curriculum. “We paired them into teams of two and enrolled each team in The Stock Market Game,” Taylor recalls. “Basically, we taught them, ‘What’s a public company?’ and ‘What does it mean to own part of a public company?’ Then we did some fun simulations to teach them how the stock price moves. ‘Would you want to buy stock if this happened to the company? How much would you pay for that?’ It teaches them what moves the individual stock prices.”

Student Bailey Key ’26 is a fan. “Throughout the weeks I started to enjoy it and thought it was extremely interesting,” she says. “My favorite lesson was learning how to use the Stock Market app.” She continues, “I am looking forward to seeing what the Investment Club will grow into.”

The course begins with three weeks of preparation including lessons on foundational skills. As Taylor explains: “The way The Stock Market Game works is that each team gets a hypothetical $100,000 to invest in a brokerage simulation. Then they get to trade over an eight-week period and whoever makes the most money in that period wins.” Although winning at a local level involves bragging rights, on the state and national levels, winners receive prizes including iPads.

Taylor’s one hesitation about The Stock Market Game is that it is only an eight-week game and it may promote more of a short-term than long-term investment strategy. “I try to teach that this is something you would do that’s higher risk. You would do it with money you have high hopes for, but it’s not something you are planning to rely upon.” Still, through the experience, students learn the terminology and the foundation for greater understanding as they continue their financial education.

The results from the first year were impressive. One team won second place in the state in 2018-19, ending with $106,500 in their portfolio at the conclusion of the eight-week game.

Of the top 20 two-member teams in the region, 15 were from PD. Rafael Lopez ’26 was one of the 2nd-place finishers. “It was a lot of fun learning about investing and competing with different schools in the area,” he says. “I highly recommend joining the Lower School Investment Club!”

Building on the success of the club’s inaugural year, it was a natural progression to become the Kid$ Kash Extended Day offering. During the current fall session, there are 25 participants split by grade level including ten fourth-graders and fifteen fifth-graders. “The boys are very fast-paced; they want to put all of their money in and they pick things that they are interested in for investments. My girls are much more conservative, they are methodical, they do a lot of reading and research before they buy,” says Taylor. “So, this year I combined the teams with girls and boys because I feel like they each bring great attributes to that team, and combined, I am hoping they will do great.”

Taylor believes strongly in the mission of the program. “We are at this amazing school that’s promoting children and setting them up to be successful. We want them to have the tools to manage that success,” she says. “The way our children grasped the concepts and picked up on it compared to other experiences people have had leading this program – it just demonstrates to me the level of education at our school.”

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