Each May and June, thousands of high school students across the country compete in various state and national competitions, ranging from sports to academics to agricultural and job skills. One prestigious national competition that has just announced its victors is the National Personal Finance Challenge (NFPC), hosted by the Council for Economic Education (CEE). The top high school team this year was Santa Clara, California’s Adrian Wilcox High School. The second-place team came from Vestavia Hills, Alabama, the third-place team hailed from Hot Springs, Arkansas, and the fourth-place team represented Andover, Kansas.
CEE and Voya Financial, which supported the competition, praised the winning teams and hope to expand the competition and financial literacy education to additional states. The National Personal Finance Competition currently hosts about 15,000 students, with an impressive goal of 50,000 students by 2025. Hopefully, the increasing number of states requiring Personal Financial Literacy (PFL) classes for high school graduation will boost the number of competitors. As many more high-performing and ambitious high school juniors and seniors are put through PFL classes, they are likely to join NPFC teams and test their mettle in competitions about budgeting, creditworthiness, and investing.
NFPC Only One of Several Finance-Related Competitions
Fortunately, the NFPC is not the only finance-related competition that can motivate and reward teenagers. One prominent host of similar competitions is SIFMA, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. The SIFMA Foundation holds multiple competitions that involve knowledge learned in PFL classes. The Stock Market Game has over 600,000 competing students across all 50 states and has been rated positively by students, teachers, and related financial literacy nonprofits alike.
Part of the Stock Market Game is the prestigious Capitol Hill Challenge, where teams compete with a hypothetical portfolio of $100,000 worth of investments. In 2023, some 6,500 students competed, and the top ten schools came from Arkansas, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Connecticut, Virginia, Oklahoma, Iowa, South Carolina, and New Jersey. The top school was North Little Rock High School in Arkansas. For those more inclined toward writing, the Stock Market Game also includes InvestWrite for high school students and younger grades.
The U.S. Federal Reserve System, through its twelve regional banks, hosts the annual High School Fed Challenge. Teams from high schools compete within their regions over monetary policy, which includes investing in Treasury bonds and international currency exchange. Students are required to analyze Federal Reserve data and present it to judges. Winners of regional competitions go to compete at the national competition in Washington, D.C. There is also College Fed Challenge for undergraduate students.
In addition to the National Personal Finance Challenge, the Council for Economic Education also hosts the National Economic Challenge (NEC). This year, almost 10,000 students competed in the NEC, with the top four teams traveling to New York City for the final round. There are two divisions: the Adam Smith division for returning teams and the David Ricardo division for new teams. For 2023, the winner of the Adam Smith division was Carmel High School from Carmel, Indiana, and the winner of the David Ricardo division was Mt. Hebron High School from Ellicott City, Maryland.