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Big Shoulders Fund celebrates the 11th year of Stock Market Program 

Program connects eighth graders from 61 schools across Chicago with business executives and mentors to learn finance and investing skills

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STUDENTS IN THE Stock Market program pose for a photo with a Big Shoulders representative at the Goodman Theatre.

Nearly 1,000 eighth grade students from 61 Big Shoulders Fund schools gathered at the Goodman Theater in Chicago to celebrate another successful year of the Stock Market Program, which brings more than 150 Chicago business leaders into eighth grade classrooms at Big Shoulders Fund schools to teach the basic concepts of saving and investing, the stock market, and careers in the finance and business sectors.

The Stock Market Program was developed by Big Shoulders Fund Executive Committee Members Charlie Bobrinskoy and Jim Hoeg, who sought to share their passion for the markets with the next generation and hopefully inspire another group of traders. Under their leadership, students in the program build a virtual portfolio tied to actual financial incentives for their school. What began as three schools in the 2008-2009 school year has now grown to 61 elementary schools and two high schools in the 2018-2019 school year.

“As someone who was introduced to the stock market by my dad when I was in 5th or 6th grade, I understand the importance of learning about finance and investing at an early age,” said Bobrinskoy, who also serves as Vice Chairman, Head of Investment Group Portfolio Manager, Ariel Investments. “Jim and I are very grateful to all of the teachers who dedicate their time to help make this a meaningful and influential program for the Big Shoulders Fund students who participate.”

This year’s event featured a mock investors meeting from Jennifer McManus, Director of Investor Relations at GATX,  followed by a career panel that included Ariel Investments’ Malik Murray, Mario Gage and Victoria Bliss. At the end of the event the Stock Market Program winner was announced. The school whose portfolio grew the most and won the Stock Market Program Cup was St. Nicholas Cathedral School.

“It was wonderful to see how excited the students were and join them in celebrating the end of a very special learning experience,” said McManus. “I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to share what I’ve learned from my time in the financial industry and hopefully help inspire the next generation of professionals to achieve great things in their own careers.”

Now in its 11th year, the Stock Market Program provides Big Shoulders Fund eighth grade students with a unique opportunity to learn about key aspects of business, such as the financial markets, personal savings and investing concepts, and the importance of managing risk. The students are taught by more than 150 Stock Market Teachers, comprised of business and corporate executives from across the greater-Chicago area. Through the Stock Market Program, these professionals have an opportunity to share their passion, knowledge and expertise with students who otherwise might not have the benefit of being exposed to such concepts and encourage them to get involved in the profession.

Each school in the program receives up to $3,000 that students manage throughout the year, providing them with an invaluable first-hand lesson in the challenges and responsibilities associated with managing and growing real money.

“Big Shoulders Fund believes in making long-term investments in our students in order to help them not only succeed academically, but give them the tools they will need when they graduate and enter adulthood,” said Joshua D. Hale, President and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund. “Our Stock Market Program brings educational concepts to life, teaches students valuable skills they can start using today and keep for the rest of their lives, and we are very excited to see what they do with this knowledge in the future.”

About Big Shoulders Fund

Big Shoulders Fund is an independent charitable organization that serves its network of 75 schools, providing a quality, values-based education to nearly 20,000 Chicago children.  Founded in 1986 by Chicago business and civic leaders, Big Shoulders Fund has raised more than $350 million to date, creating wider access to a network of schools for underserved, low-income students and increasing the capacity of the schools through academic programs, scholarships and enrichment, leadership development, and operational strategy and improvements. The success of these investments is demonstrated by the fact that 94 percent of Big Shoulders Fund students graduate high school, 85 percent of graduating scholars enroll in college the year following high school, and alumni graduate from college at more than twice the national rate and, equally important, they are employed, volunteer, and donate at rates higher than their peers. Big Shoulders has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest evaluator of nonprofits, for 12 consecutive years, a distinction held by less than one percent of nonprofit organizations nationally.

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