Behind ING-Girls Inc.’s $50,000 Youth Investment Challenge

Young investors find opportunity in stock market

Current economic conditions haven’t stopped Girls Inc. from teaching its students how to become savvy investors. In fact, its members are revved up and looking for opportunity within the highly volatile stock market.

Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization offering math and science help for young girls as well as financial literacy, teamed up with financial institution ING Foundation for the $50,000 investment challenge. The pilot program kicked off in November with an eight-week prep course, developed jointly by ING and Girls Inc, teaching participants basic investing principals such as asset allocation, diversification and valuation.

The students finally made their dive into the stock market in March receiving $20,000 of the initial principal to invest in mutual funds. The remaining $30,000 will be disbursed over a six-month period.

“Having actual experience in investing, these girls will develop that skills and knowledge so that when they are adults they will be able to manage money effectively,” says Joyce Roche, Girls Inc. president.

The program is for girls ages 12-18 and runs at four of the organizations branches across the nation. The teams of 13 to 16 participants research investment opportunities and decide as a group if it’s worthy investment and how much money to allocate.

“The girls will make all of the decisions, they will be required to do the research,” Roche says. But that’s not without receiving guidance from ING mentors and Girls Inc. advisors.

At the end of the three-year challenge the girls will receive 75% of the portfolio’s gains in the form of scholarships. The remaining 25% will be given to the local Girls Inc affiliate to support local programming. The $50,000 principal will be re-invested into the
program for the incoming team.

Black Enterprise caught up with the New York chapter of the organization for a glimpse of how the program works.

These aren’t the only young people sifting through the market for valued bargains. The May 2009 issue of Black Enterprise features several Gen Yers taking Wall Street by storm. Charles Weems, 27, Erika Smith, 25, Andrew Simon, 23, and Kevin Njeru, all began purchasing individual stocks just as prices reached record lows. These investors reveal what prompted them start investing, and most importantly, they share tips on what it takes to start buying stocks, and invaluable resources.

Related reading:

Top Stock Picks of Some of BE’s Young Investors

The Young & the Restless

– LaToya Smith contributed reporting.

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