Did you know 70% of Pennsylvania college students graduate with student debt? And only 1 in 4 invest in 401(k) retirement tools. And in 2014 the average credit card debt of Americans was $15,600. The fact is, Americans aren't the most financially literate people. I want to fix that with a program called Student Investment Lab and Fund, or SILAF.
SILAF is a non-profit education program for Philadelphia high school students that teaches financial literacy through investment. Unlike other investing programs for high school students, we create a structured platform for students to work with real money. No other organization (save a few swanky private schools) does this.
How does investing relate to financial literacy? Glad you asked. Our premise is that when a student understands complex concepts in investment management, a baseline of awareness is created. That baseline includes an understanding of what a 401(k) is, how to invest, and the importance of balancing assets across cash, credit, equity, and other financial vehicles. In other words, not every student may understand how to trade commodities in the futures market, but all will understand how to save using stocks (and a retirement plan.
Because our program is 100% hands on, with all real money, students become really engaged. That engagement helps them get real-world experience (and comfort) in investing. Then, when confronted with signing a student loan document, starting a retirement account, or opening a new credit card, they are more familiar with the importance of their financial decisions to giving them power over their lives.
Funded by Philadelphia, PA (November 2014)