The Financial Literacy Program has been part of the Department of Finance since 1995 and consists of several programs:
- The Rotary Challenge is an Investment challenge offered to local area High Schools. We provide each student with a $1,000,000 portfolio and an UISES (University of Illinois Securities Exchange Simulation) on-line brokerage account from which the student buys and sells equities. UISES is the same web based investment simulation we use to teach our own students in both the undergraduate and MSF programs.
The Champaign Rotary Club offers prizes for students, teachers, and schools that generate the highest rates of return. The investment challenge has been part of our Financial Literacy Program since 1995. In spring 2013 we hosted nine teachers in five schools for a total of 22 classes with 350 student accounts.
- Introduction to Stock Market Investment is an on-line course offered openly on the web. The site was designed for teachers who might feel unequal to the task of incorporating the stock market into their classes because they are insecure about their knowledge of the market itself. We pulled the print version in 1999 and the course now exists on the web where students can use it as well.
- Market Mentors is a program where members of the Finance Academy go into the high schools and run a mock trading session. The High School students buy and sell shares as brokers on the floor of the exchange while the University students act as specialist, chalk up bids and asks, and maintain fair and orderly markets. To facilitate the action and enable everyone to participate we have re-programmed the UI developed I>Clickers to act as traders’ bid/ask clickers. Sometimes it gets a little frantic, but the kids love it and they learn a lot. This program has been running since 1998.
- Business Mentors is a program where we partner with the Champaign Rotary Club to connect High School teachers with local business people who are willing to speak to their classes. It provides teachers with easy access to experts-in-residence to bring business and entrepreneurial expertise into the classroom without being experts themselves.
- The Video Essay Contest forms part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Money Smart Week. We decided to push the traditional Money Smart Essay Contest into the 21st century by emulating YouTube. High School students are encouraged to submit video essays on specified topics in Finance. Previous year's videos are offered online as resources for teachers and students. This way we hope to build a library of financial literacy vingettes, engaging students in a way that speaks to them directly.