The Magnetar Capital Foundation was formed in 2012. The Foundation is focused on improving quality of life in the communities in which Magnetar employees live and work. The principal activity of the Foundation is to operate the Magnetar Youth Investment Academy, a financial literacy program currently serving high school students in more than 20 Chicago locations.
The Magnetar Youth Investment Academy
In 2010, when a Magnetar executive was speaking to a group of Chicago teens about the firm, a student asked how to buy stock. The student wanted to double his money quickly, and was wondering if he should go to a retail store to buy stock in that company. The Magnetar executive realized that improving financial literacy among students would be a great way for the firm to give back.
In fact, studies have shown that people who lack a basic understanding of finances are more likely to have problems with debt, less likely to have bank accounts, are less likely to participate in the stock market and less likely to plan for retirement. Magnetar’s leadership decided to start a program that would teach high school students the basics of financial literacy, believing that it would help empower them both now and later in life.
The Magnetar Academy is a unique, hands-on and replicable program that educates high school students about personal finance. The program, currently in more than 20 Chicago high schools, is tied to the Illinois State Math and English Language Arts and Common Core Standards. Typically taught as an after-school enrichment program, Academy components include teacher training, stipends for teachers, a turnkey curriculum and a mock portfolio competition.
All graduates of the Magnetar Academy receive a $100 gift certificate to open a custodial investment account. The Magnetar Academy also awards a partial college scholarship to each high school’s winner of the Academy’s annual mock Stock Market Portfolio Competition.
In 2013, the Magnetar Foundation added a new element to the program. On April 6, more than 75 students from nine high schools came together for the first-ever Magnetar Ultimate Stock Trading Challenge. Trading as school teams, the students worked on trading floor-style computers designed to simulate the stock market over three economic cycles. The winning school was awarded a $5,000 grant, with the second and third place schools receiving $2,500 and $1,500, respectively.
Nyasha Nyamapfene, Program Director
Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy