Student Investment Project

Did you know that National Endowment for Financial Education says that if you invest $2,000 every year during your working years (ages 18–65), your investment could grow to be worth more than $706,000?

Students at Cody Middle School learn this and many other facts about financial literacy with our Student Investment Project.


SIP Class

What is SIP?

SIP (Student Investment Project) is a practical, real-world opportunity for our students to learn financial literacy and money management.

Starting in the sixth grade, our students invest monies donated from area businesses and individuals as well as $5 of their own cash in stocks and mutual funds. Students add to these funds annually and learn how interest, world events, and diligence affect the way their funds grow. By their senior year, students withdraw their investment funds and donate 5% back to the community and 5% to the incoming 6th grade class and use the remainder to pay for their senior party.

Learn More About SIP

Program Summary

The Student Investment Project (SIP) is a sixth through twelfth grade project based financial literacy program. Students learn basic money management, budgeting and investing skills, and learn how the stock market works through real-world investing. We blend grant funds and donations with student contributions to create an investment portfolio. Teachers and community advisors instruct students in economic concepts with final investment decisions made by students. Active participation in SIP begins in 6th grade where students manage their own portfolio with ongoing instruction and guidance from mentors. Upon graduation, students will use a portion of their total funds for a service-learning project to address a need in the community. The driving principle for SIP is to teach students at an early age how to manage money and invest for their future. The practical, real-world experience builds critical skills that students carry with them throughout their lives.

Intended Outcomes

Multiple studies have shown that a combination of education and authentic money management opportunities are the most effective way to raise student financial literacy. SIP combines both of these through extensive instruction in basic economics, money management, investing, saving, and real-world investing in stocks and mutual funds. With guidance from mentors in the banking, investment, and accounting sectors working in partnership with teachers, SIP prepares students to make more informed decisions about money. As they graduate from high school, SIP participants will be better prepared to be savvy consumers of financial products, are able to budget and spend responsibly, and understand the importance of saving and giving as part of a strong financial plan.

Service-Learning Connection

SIP emphasizes three pillars of financial literacy: spending, saving, and giving. A service-learning component engages students in meaningful community service integrated with instruction. Applying the skills learned in SIP students develop an action plan, create a budget, and collaborate on logistics, publicity, and execution of the activity. This component allows students to use their understanding of money and finance to solve real-life problems. PCSD #6 follows the Wyoming State Standards. SIP addresses mathematics standards at every grade level. The standards covered range from counting and computation to calculating compound interest, budgeting, and data analysis. SIP also addresses literacy standards regarding argumentation, speaking, and listening. Finally, the SIP project meets the secondary grade-level standards for college and career readiness.

Purpose and Objectives

Research published by the Department of the Treasury and the National Financial Educators Council shows that education in personal finance leads to greater financial stability and wealth later in life, particularly regarding retirement savings. The earlier financial education begins, the better the outcome, especially for those from low-income households. 30% of students in our district are on free and reduced lunches, and that number is on the rise. Most of those families live in low-income housing and are on welfare. Statistics indicate that financial literacy education is essential for these students to have greater success and financial stability. The SIP curriculum provides consistent, effective instruction in money management, budgeting, and investment across our district, and gives students practical experience with every aspect of personal finance.

Project Research

SIP began in the school year of 2012-2013 at the Cody Middle School, with the 6th grade piloting the program. The advisory committee and board are in place. The PCSD 6 School Board, and all relevant stakeholders within the district fully support this program. Some teachers have embedded the instruction in their core classes. The class accounts have grown through investment, interest, and donations from community supporters. The teachers and students in the pilot group act as leaders for other staff and students as the program expands from year to year.

Approach Strengths & Weaknesses

SIP gives all students hands-on experience with money, investments, and budgeting. By involving community professionals, students connect with mentors who serve as valuable resources. Students monitor progress and gain communication, analysis, and planning skills.

The concepts require intensive instruction. To address this, our hope is to one day expand SIP to the elementary level, breaking down the skills so that no one grade-level is overwhelmed. SIP aligns with existing curriculum, allowing in-depth instruction with minimal intrusion.

Youth Engagement

SIP includes all students in the district including those from low-income homes, English Language Learners, minority students, gifted and talented, and special education students. Participation on the advisory board is open to all students beginning in 6th grade, and their input in the planning process is incorporated into changes and additions to SIP.

Community Impact

Community organizations will benefit from the service-learning component through the participation of and donations from students. A primary concern of the Cody Chamber of Commerce members is workforce readiness, particularly as it applies to seasonal workers’ money handling, customer service, and communication skills. SIP develops these skills, better preparing students for part-time work in high school and college, and employment after graduation. Cody, Wyoming is a rural community with a tourism and agricultural-based economy subject to boom-and-bust cycles. Sound financial literacy education will better prepare students to weather the ups and downs of the local economy. The project also engages local businesses with students at an early age, providing much needed mentors and role models for students from distressed homes and those living in poverty within the community.

Project Sustainability

Sustainability is built in to the SIP model. The graduating class donates 5% of the funds to the incoming 6th grade class, providing a self-funded start up system. Startup funds include donations from community organizations, individual supporters, and student contributions. The school board, building administrators, and the local business community fully support SIP and have committed to providing the time and resources necessary to maintain it in the future.