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Investing in our future

Money. This single word has a great deal of power and influence in our lives.

For many in our community, their knowledge about creating wealth is simple: you earn money from a job, and you save it in a bank. While that is certainly important, there is more we can teach our youth about creating wealth and investing in their future. 

Financial stability is important for a variety of reasons, but the most important is this: when you have money, you have options to live a better life. It puts you in control. Having money gives you freedom to choose how you want to live and support the things you care about.

My work at United Way is focused on changing people’s lives, particularly those of boys and men of color. Educating people on money is a key component of what I do. I believe that for us to change the financial inequities for Black youth in our community, we must ensure that access to financial education is within their reach. I truly believe the proverb “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

That’s how legacy is built.

Parents today are beginning to recognize that teaching their children about financial literacy — especially about investing — can help set a foundation for a successful future. 

United Way is proud to partner with CLIMB USA (Communities Learning to Invest and Mobilize for Business) to connect underserved youth and families to financial education programs.

One of these programs is the Summer Stock Market Experience and The Stock Market Game. In the summer of 2021, 98 of the 234 Summer Stock Market participants were from Southeastern Wisconsin, and these groups of young people represented participation from 15 local nonprofit organizations.

The Stock Market Game introduces young people to saving and investing through a simulation of the stock market and bond market. Starting with a hypothetical cash account of $100,000, students strive to create the best performing portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more in a live trading environment.

Data released by the Federal Reserve in 2020 shares that while 60.8% of white households own stock (directly or indirectly through retirement programs), only 33.5% of Black households have a stake in the stock market. This means that the racial wealth gap continues to widen. Investing in the stock market is one of the best ways to build wealth. 

The Stock Market Game is an engaging educational tool within the classroom framework. Every year, students not only learn about investing, but they gain knowledge that can be applied to other subjects like math, language arts, and economics. It also helps with setting goals and working together on a project. 

“We are already making an impact at a systemic level,” said Bob Wynn, president of CLIMB USA. “Our novel approach of offering The Stock Market Game as a summer program is gaining momentum. We are leading an inter-organizational collective impact strategy that is creating a regenerative economic empowerment ecosystem in which underserved youth, families, and communities can learn, grow, and thrive.”

The Stock Market Game is part of the Boys & Men of Color (BMOC) initiative at United Way. With the support of so many in our community, BMOC is focused on opening new doors, removing unforeseen barriers, and guiding individuals with a strong focus on short-term wins and long-term success. 

Teaching our youth about investing in the stock market is one of the best things we can do today to build a better tomorrow. 

You can be part of the solution. 

Learn more about the Boys and Men of Color initiative and CLIMB USA by visiting

Shannon Reed was formerly the director of Racial Equity & Justice at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. In his role, he provided oversight of the Racial Equity & Justice grant portfolio and communicated and aligned the strategic direction of programming. Currently, he is leading the Young Men United initiative at United Way Worldwide. Over the next 10 years, this initiative will greatly improve college graduation and career success for 25,000 young leaders.