How many of you out there would be happy with a 54.55% return on your investments over the past three years?
Who could generate such impressive results? Hedge fund managers? The country's top stock brokers? Super savvy financial advisors?
Actually, these were the results of the most successful team in the ING-Girls Inc. Investment Challenge, the “NYC Investment Divas” based in New York City.
Earlier this summer teams of girls from four cities successfully completed the ING-Girls Inc. Investment Challenge, a program that provides practical, hands-on investing experience to girls around the country.
The winners spent the past three years managing a virtual $50,000 diversified, real-time portfolio as a part of an integrated investment and economic-literacy curriculum. As a reward for their success in money management, the gains realized from their investment portfolios will be translated into real dollars for their continued education.
"These girls can have an in-depth conversation with a CEO and give them tips," shared Rhonda Mimms.
The organizations behind the ING-Girls Inc. Investment Challenge
The program is a joint effort of the ING Foundation and Girls Inc., the nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, With the help and guidance of trained Girls Inc. staff and ING U.S. employee volunteers, teams of girls ages 12-18 built and managed diversified, real-time portfolios.
I spoke with Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc. and Rhonda Mims, President of the ING Foundation and Head of Corporate Responsibility to get their thoughts on the program and the results.
“Lots of girls wanted to sign up,” says Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc. “It’s clear that girls have a keen appetite to learn more about finances, saving and investing."
Rhonda Mims, President of the ING Foundation and Head of Corporate Responsibility pointed out that the response from ING U.S. volunteers was also very enthusiastic. "They had a wonderful experience working with these girls."
Results of the program
Both Mims and Vredenburgh are passionate about teaching girls to be financially literate and to be self sufficient.
"The girls learned concepts of saving, spending and priorities, and thinking about the future and not just today. The girls internalize and see connections between deferring now and a huge payoff down the road. They learned not only financial skills but valuable life skills. It was a tremendous confidence booster," according to Judy Vredenburgh.
"These girls make huge changes in their lives, but also the lives of those around them, helping to educate households and peers. By changing a girl, you change a larger community," added Judy Vredenburgh.
Here's what some of the participants had to say about the program:
"I loved that I was exposed to a world I didn't know I could be a part of. I know what the news is talking about, and I know how to make investments in the near future." - Aziza, 19, Denver
"At first I did not know anything about investing and the different parts in it, but I have gained skills that I will carry on into adulthood." - D'Leslie, Brooklyn, 17
"The women at ING U.S. gave off a competitive vibe that I enjoyed. It was refreshing to see women in control." - Heli, 17, Atlanta (upon visiting the ING U.S. offices in New York City)
How much of an impact did the program have on the girls? I think it can best be summed up by a quote from one of the participants. She was asked which magazine she'd like to be on the cover of. "Before this I would have said People, but now I want to be on the cover of the magazine that I am creating."
Now that's powerful.
A note to financial professionals and parents: Girls care about learning about money. We owe this to ALL of our daughters. Financial literacy may be one of the most important gifts you give to your daughters as well as your sons.
Kudos to ING U.S. and Girls Inc. on a job well done. Seriously. Check out the final results below.