CU-Boulder students partner with middle school to teach financial literacy

As the school year wraps up, students at Summit Charter Middle School in Boulder will debrief on how their $25,000 stock portfolio performed.

The middle school students invested money under supervision as part of a course created and taught by accounting and finance students from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

The CU-Boulder students, with the guidance of Associate Professor Alan Jagolinzer of the Leeds School, have planned and provided 50-minute lessons at least twice weekly throughout the spring semester on everything from budgeting to debt, investment returns, market volatility and credit cards.

“This elective class has taught middle school students things that go beyond the next test and beyond the classroom,” said Lisa Mueller, one of the CU-Boulder student volunteers, who graduated this month with concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. “It will be carried with them their entire lives in the skills they’ve gained, like knowing how to manage money and how to invest.”

The middle school students teamed up into four groups to identify potential investment opportunities. They researched companies and pitched their ideas to a volunteer group of professional investors, chaired by Kent Muckel of Perella Weinberg Partners. Based on the young students’ input, the nonprofit organization that supports Summit then invested $25,000 allocated for the project in shares. The overall performance of the portfolio was positive over the semester and all returns have been reinvested for future use at Summit.

“We’re excited that our students have the opportunity to learn about finance with real-world implications,” said Adam Galvin, principal of Summit. “This experience shows our level of trust in our students with advisory committee supervision and also helps them appreciate how to develop sustainable funding infrastructures.” 

In addition to developing and teaching the course, the CU-Boulder students helped launched a business club at Summit. Its middle school members opened and operate a small school supply store called “$um Stuff.”

“Our primary goal is to teach fundamental finance concepts to students much earlier in their schooling because we believe this provides core life skills training,” said Jagolinzer, an associate professor of accounting. “Most students, and many adults for that matter, have virtually no finance acumen and we think that needs to change.” 

For the CU-Boulder students, the community service opportunity has shaped communication and collaboration skills, as well as provided a network, according to Mueller.

“It’s really cool to see other students at CU-Boulder be passionate about something,” said Mueller. “It’s such a huge school, and you can find a small group of people who love to teach and share their knowledge. Everybody who’s developed this course has been awesome. I hope I can help them in the future and stay involved with the project.”

Mueller, who is beginning fulltime employment at an audit, tax and advisory firm called KPMG, is among three of the student volunteers who graduated this month. The financial literacy class at Summit is slated to continue next school year and recruitment of new student volunteers is under way.

For more information about the Leeds School of Business visit http://leeds.colorado.edu

Contacts

Alan Jagolinzer
jagolinzer@colorado.edu
Lisa Mueller, 303-842-3048
lisa.mueller@colorado.edu
Elizabeth Lock, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3117
elizabeth.lock@colorado.edu

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