Ezra Kohrs, age 10, from Mt. Jackson, Virginia is well on his way to joining the ranks of some of the best financial legends in the world. The diligent 5th-grader defied the challenges of distance learning and cinched an exhilarating win in the SIFMA Foundation’s Fall 2020 InvestWrite competition, penning an essay on how challenges can create opportunities in the global economy and in life.
Competing in the elementary school division, Kohrs, who attends Kohrs Homeschool, researched and composed an impressive long-term financial plan and now he is being recognized as the winner in the state of Virginia.
SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite national essay competition bridges classroom learning in math, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. It also serves as a culminating activity for The Stock Market Game™ a highly effective in-person, remote learning and hybrid educational tool in which students invest and manage a hypothetical $100,000 online portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash.
“SIFMA Foundation’s programs give youth of all backgrounds, especially in underserved communities, a real shot at financial independence and economic mobility,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “We equip and train teachers to offer essential skills and knowledge to their 4th-12th graders to navigate the capital markets and financial decision-making. To date, we’ve transformed the lives of 20 million students like Ezra through learning that is practical and fun.”
The Fall 2020 InvestWrite competition challenged students to write an essay about how they’ve adapted to change at some point in their lives, how a publicly traded company has adapted to change, and how that company’s stock could be combined with other stocks, bonds or mutual funds to create a successful long-term portfolio.
Kohrs developed a plan that would have an impact today and into the future and wowed the team of judges with his essay.
The Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are offered in Virginia through the Virginia Council on Economic Education. “We honor and congratulate Ezra Kohrs and his teacher, Sarah Kohrs,” said Dan Mortensen, President and CEO of the Virginia Council on Economic Education, “Helping Virginia students better understand our economy, our markets, the role of investors, and how to make good investments will pay dividends for the students, their education, and the Virginia economy.”
Ezra Kohrs and his teacher, Sarah Kohrs, will be honored by the Virginia Council on Economic Education during a live stream presentation of the Virginia 2021 Stock Market Game Awards Celebration.
Winning Essay by Ezra Kohrs
During the summer, I went on a 13-mile hike along Mill Mountain trail in George Washington National Forest, which covers the mountains between Virginia and West Virginia. Before I went on the hike, I felt like it was something I could never do. But, I did it. It was very hard. I felt like my feet were going to fall off but I didn’t focus on the pain. I focused on nature, the trees and the flowers and a little frog that jumped into a natural spring like a leaf falling to the ground in the warm autumn wind. Then, before I knew it, the hike was over and I wished I could go on another one. I overcame something I never thought I could do! This experience will help me in the future on hikes. And whenever something seems impossible, I can re-envision this summertime trek, and remember that nothing really is impossible.
Companies come to the same conclusions. Let’s take Google. Google has changed over the years. It used to be called Backrub and then was renamed Google. The name Google comes from the number googol, which is 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The founders of Google believed their search engine would one day have that many search results. Google’s first headquarters was a garage in California, owned by Susan Wojcicki. But Google quickly outgrew that garage and moved to its current headquarters, “The Googleplex,” still in California. And, as of November 2020, the value of their once $50 per share stock is approximately $1,775.
Google’s mission, as stated on their website, is “to significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible.” Recently, Apple allied with Google to release a technology called the Exposure Notifications System. In Virginia, where I live, they call it COVID Wise. This technology notifies you if you have had exposure to Covid-19. Basically, Google and Apple, which are stocks in technology mutual funds, have developed what could be described as a digital vaccine. But I think they should make it so that it’s not just contact tracing COVID-19, but other contagious diseases and illnesses, like the flu, as well. Investing in health care mutual funds, such as Vanguard Health Care Fund (VGHCX), would help them succeed in their mission to help people around the world. Sometimes things seem impossible, like helping billions of people around the world, but nothing really is impossible.
About the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education
The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds, with a focus on youth. Drawing on the involvement and expertise of educators and the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunities across communities and increase individuals’ access to the benefits of the global marketplace. Notable Foundation programs include The Stock Market Game™, which has enabled more than 20 million students to become financially prepared for life, the InvestWrite® national essay competition, the Capitol Hill Challenge™, and Invest It Forward®. For more information on the work of the SIFMA Foundation, visit www.sifma.org/foundation.
InvestWrite® is a culminating activity for Stock Market Game students extending their classroom learning with a written challenge to address real-world financial issues and situations. Students must analyze, think critically and problem solve about a long-term saving and investing scenario. Nearly 250,000 student essays have been evaluated by their teachers and over 40,000 financial professionals have served as volunteer judges. Essays are judged by financial professionals who volunteer their time each year to ensure young people are exposed to the essentials of personal finance early in life. Judges evaluate students’ understanding of long-term investing, diversification, the global capital markets, and factors that drive investments as well as their expression of investment ideas in essay form. Winners locally and nationally rise to the top to earn exciting awards and prizes including laptops, classroom pizza parties, trophies, plaques and banners, and certificates.
The Virginia Council on Economic Education, a nonprofit organization, provides Virginia K-12 students with the economic knowledge and financial skills needed to thrive in our dynamic economy. By providing quality training and up-to-date resources, the Virginia Council on Economic Education partners with teachers and school divisions to help students develop decision-making skills needed to be informed consumers, productive employees or innovative entrepreneurs, thoughtful investors, and reasoned voters. For more information, visit www.vcee.org.
SIFMA is the leading trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers operating in the U.S. and global capital markets. On behalf of our industry’s nearly 1 million employees, we advocate on legislation, regulation and business policy, affecting retail and institutional investors, equity and fixed income markets and related products and services. We serve as an industry coordinating body to promote fair and orderly markets, informed regulatory compliance, and efficient market operations and resiliency. We also provide a forum for industry policy and professional development. SIFMA, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C., is the U.S. regional member of the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA). For more information, visit www.sifma.org.
Governor Ralph Northam announced the winners of the 2020 Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance. More than 3,000 high school students from across the Commonwealth participated in an online competition, and the three winning teams will compete at the National Economics Challenge.
“I would like to congratulate the winners of the 2020 Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance. Students were able to compete virtually this year, so we were able to award winners in all the divisions, just as in previous years, in spite of the unique challenges we are currently facing. We are honored to have these students represent the Commonwealth in the national competition,” said Governor Northam. “Skills and knowledge in economics and personal finance are critically important because they will enable Virginia’s students to succeed in our increasingly complex global economy.”
The winners include:
David Ricardo Division (Economics)
1st Place: Maggie Walker Governor’s School, Richmond City, Teacher: Allison Anthony Students: Ronit Jain, Michael Kish, Abhay Duggirala, Sam Lichtman
Adam Smith Division (Advanced Economics)
1st Place: Thomas Jefferson High School, Fairfax County, Teacher: Jay Wickliff Students: Richard Zhang, Vikram Raghu, Karen Song, Victoria Graf
Personal Finance Division
1st Place: Maggie Walker Governor’s School, Richmond City. Teacher: Allison Anthony Students: Dominic Dao, Miles Nardi, Kevin Ren, Richard Zhai
“Congratulations to the winning students, teachers, and schools. I am grateful for all the teachers and students who worked through this difficult time to participate in this annual competition,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane.
The Governor’s Challenge is conducted in partnership with the Virginia Council on Economic Education (VCEE), a nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the quality of K–12 economic and financial education in Virginia.
Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni adds. “As a national leader in developing personal finance and economics requirements for our students, we are committed to providing students with high-quality education that equips them with sound economic decision-making capabilities and personal financial reasoning skills, ensuring they have the essential skills needed for life-long success.”
The 2020 Governor’s Challenge competition is made available at no cost to Virginia high schools thanks to VCEE sponsors, including Lead Sponsor, Capital One; Titanium Sponsor, Virginia529; and Teachers’ Sponsor, Virginia Lottery. To learn more about the Governor’s Challenge and other efforts to promote support economic and financial education for Virginia’s students, visit www.vcee.org. To see the regional winners, click here.