Christiansburg, VA March 26, 2020 – Catlin Miller pitched a $259,482 investment plan to fund her dream of obtaining degrees in wildlife biology and now she’s being recognized nationally! Reflecting on Oprah Winfrey’s inspiring statement, “Whatever our dreams, ideas or projects, we plant a seed, nurture it and then reap the fruits of our labor,” Catlin Miller pitched virtual investors for a capital investment to seed her dream. Miller’s financial plan was so compelling that it won her third place in the nation in the Fall 2019 InvestWrite® competition.

Due to the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 virus, the planned school assembly to announce Miller’s award was canceled. Miller’s teacher and principal surprised the student with her award at her doorstep with appropriate social distancing. Click here to see the video on Facebook of the surprise.

Cheryl Ayers, Co-director of the Virginia Tech Center for Economic Education, led the initiative to bring the national competition to local schools including Christiansburg Elementary School. The center has been providing resources designed to educate K-12 teachers and students about economics, personal finance, and entrepreneurship since the 1980s and is affiliated with the Virginia Council on Economic Education and the Council for Economic Education, as well as Virginia Cooperative Extension.

From P/E ratios and Betas to fixed income and growth stocks, Miller’s broad knowledge of investing enabled this impressive fifth grader from Christiansburg Elementary School in Christiansburg, VA to climb to the top of the competition in the elementary school division and beat out thousands of students competing nationwide. InvestWrite is a national essay competition that bridges classroom learning in math, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. The competition serves as a culminating activity for participants in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game program. Essays are judged by thousands of financial professionals who volunteer their time each year to ensure young people are exposed to the essentials of personal finance early in life.

The Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are offered in Virginia through the Virginia Council on Economic Education. “We honor and congratulate Catlin Miller and her teacher, Tamra Oliver,” 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.”

The National Retirement Risk Index shows that one in two working-age households are not prepared for retirement. SIFMA Foundation’s programs provide students like Miller critical exposure to investing, capital markets and financial readiness. The Stock Market Game and InvestWrite help millions of students also strengthen their math, economics and long-term saving and investing know-how, follow financial news and stay apprised of current events. Students develop essential skills including teamwork, communication and leadership as they manage their online portfolios with their peers. They work in groups during The Stock Market Game and then write InvestWrite essays individually to apply what they have learned using critical thinking, analysis and creative writing. Since InvestWrite’s launch in 2004, almost 240,000 students have submitted essays.

“Financial responsibilities are a given in life, but financial education is not,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “That doesn’t add up for this country’s 57 million students like Catlin who are expected to compete in a global economy and manage their retirement. We must reduce barriers for teachers to bring financial education into the classroom and provide real-world educational experiences that prepare students for financial independence, economic mobility and the workforce.”

The Fall 2019 InvestWrite competition required students to write an essay describing a dream they hope to achieve. Essays laid out a financial plan to pay for their dream with a pitch to a panel of virtual investors. The students were expected to identify stocks, bonds or mutual funds that could be included in a portfolio to grow their investors’ seed money to fulfill their dream. Catlin Miller described her dream to study wildlife biology. “I want to study how humans impact the lives and habitats of animals. Some ever-growing forms of destruction caused by humans are deforestation, agricultural expansion, urbanization, fragmentation, and habitat destruction. This can and will cause challenges for animals and people,” she explained.

To fund her dream, Miller requested $259,482. “My investment plan is that from year one to year five, my investor should have more stocks than bonds. At year five, they should buy more bonds than stock so that they are guaranteed more safety,” she wrote. “Also, I recommend that any dividend paid be reinvested half in bonds, half in stock.”

Winning InvestWrite essays are chosen through rigorous judging by thousands of teachers and industry professionals who 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 receive exciting awards and prizes including laptops, classroom pizza parties, trophies, plaques and banners, and certificates. The first-place national winners in middle school and high school are awarded a three-day all-expense paid trip to New York City, the financial capital of the world, with their teacher and a parent.

An independent, double-blind, nationally randomized evaluation conducted by Learning Point Associates (now AIR) found that The Stock Market Game improves students’ academic achievement and personal financial behavior. Students who participated in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game scored significantly higher on mathematics and financial literacy tests than their peers who did not participate. They also found that teachers who taught The Stock Market Game reported that the program motivated them to better plan for their own financial futures. The Stock Market Game has been named the only program that successfully increased scores on the Jumpstart Coalition’s test of high school students’ financial literacy.

Winning Essay by Catlin Miller

Many people have thought about what they want to be when they grow up. Not many people, however, have thought about how they want to get there.

I want to be a wildlife biologist when I grow up, and there are several things that I need to do to become one. But, right now, I want to tell you why my dream is important to me.

I want to be a wildlife biologist because I want to help animals. I want to study how humans impact the lives and habitats of animals. Some ever-growing forms of destruction caused by humans are deforestation, agricultural expansion, urbanization, fragmentation, and habitat destruction. This can and will cause challenges for animals and people. As time goes on and as we get more advanced, this will continue to be a bigger problem.

I am 10 years old. I will be 18 when I go to college. This gives my investor eight years to invest before I need money to pay for college. A wildlife biologist needs a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree will take four years to finish. A master’s degree will take two years to complete. I looked up how much it will cost each year including living expenses by the time I am in college. According to the website Vanguard College Cost Projector, six years of tuition at a state college near me will cost $259,482.

A plan my investor could use to get enough money to invest in my dream is selecting companies that are performing above the S&P 500. The average earnings of S&P 500 companies over ten years is 10% according to my research.

Some investments that I will recommend to my investor to invest in are Microsoft Corporation, Zoetis Inc, the school municipal bond, and IDEXX Laboratories. I selected these stocks and bonds because they are all doing well in the S&P 500.

I selected Zoetis Inc because it is an animal company, and because its stock price to earnings ratio is 43.78. I selected Microsoft because its P/E ratio is 26.50. Another reason I selected Microsoft is because they are the leading company in the S&P 500!

I selected the school municipal bond because our county doesn’t have a lot of debt, so they have a high rating. In fact, the bond is going to be used to renovate our school, which was built in 1963. Although our county has a high rating making this investment safe, the interest rate of the bond is only 2.3 % so I would not recommend buying much of this.

I selected IDEXX Laboratories because their P/E ratio is 57.63. Another reason I selected IDEXX Laboratories is because they are an animal company! They use their profits to help animals.

My investment plan is that from year one to year five, my investor should have more stocks than bonds. At year five, they should buy more bonds than stock so that they are guaranteed more safety, but still a lot of money. For example, from one year to five years, they should have about 80% stock and 20% bonds. Then, they should raise the amount of bonds at five years. Also, it is important to keep in mind that you must have risk. You cannot earn money without risk. My investor should take some chances and grow the amount of money by following this plan. Also, I recommend that any dividend paid be reinvested half in bonds, half in stock.

If I need $259,482 in eight years, my investor will have to put $50,000 in the stock market now and put $1059.13 in the stock market each month for ten years. I used the Investor.Gov Compounding Calculator to figure this out.

Not many people think about how we harm animals every day, and how it affects humans. We have a huge effect on the animal planet. Now, we must stop and think about it. I think this is important because animals are crucial to this planet. I think it is important to understand the value of biodiversity. We must speak up for animals since they can’t speak up for themselves.

Thank you for taking the time to read my essay. By investing in me, we can help humankind take a step toward protecting our planet, and the rare species that live here. I think that animals are important, and by reading this, now I hope that you do, too!




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 18 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, visit


About the Virginia Council on Economic Education

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



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