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Our Day at Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge

Two of our staffers, Todd Leveen and Desirae Outcalt, had the honor of serving on the planning committee for Junior Achievement of Arizona’s recent Stock Market Challenge. Todd, who serves on JA of Arizona’s board of directors, also served as emcee for the Challenge and sponsored the participants from Hamilton High School. Desirae along with Nathaniel Spatz, Lisa Friedman and Jeremy King also volunteered at the Challenge. The Biltmore Bank of Arizona supported the event with a sponsorship.

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Approximately 400 high school students from various schools throughout the state worked in teams to compete. Their objective was to accumulate the highest possible net worth in their simulated investment portfolio. Junior Achievement designed the Stock Market Challenge to teach kids across broad range of income levels “what it’s like to build a portfolio, manage risk, and experience its performance in a compressed period of time.”

Over the course of a morning, students become traders. Every 90 seconds represents a trading day for a total of 60 days of trading. The winning team has the greatest percentage of growth in its portfolio.

During the morning, Nathaniel ran stock tips on the floor, while Todd introduced people, monitored the activities, tallied the scores, interviewed the kids and provided ongoing commentary. The room felt like an actual trading floor, with a constant stream of company news coming at the teams and people yelling trade orders back and forth.

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Real world company names were changed, but the company profiles and corresponding breaking news were intact. A simulator ran a randomized algorithm that processed information inputted and then moved stock prices accordingly. Breaking news and trading volume affected the stock market performance.

JA Stock Market Challenge provides real world investment experience kids don’t often receive in school. Before the challenge day, the students participated in JA Take Stock in Your Future, where they “learned about individual equities, the impact of the economy, geo-political events, and market sentiment.” From this experience, they learned about the fundamentals behind the stock market and the concept of trading to prepare them for the day of the Challenge.

“On the day of the challenge, some of the kids got heavily tied to certain companies, so you could hear groans when bad news got released,” said Todd. “I enjoyed seeing them get emotionally involved and having some tell me, ‘I had no idea….’ I know they were acquiring real life skills they can use forever.”

As part of our sponsorship, we invited some of our clients and friends to partake in the adult Stock Market Challenge. After the event for the high schoolers concluded, the volunteers and other guests got to try their hand managing stock portfolios using the same simulation program. Key sponsors even had their companies included in the stock trade simulation. Desirae, Lisa and Jeremy joined our gang for this portion of the event, and Desirae had recruited sponsors and silent auction items for the adult Challenge.

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Through sponsorships from many committed companies, Junior Achievement of Arizona was able to raise $149,000 for Stock Market Challenge. Low- to moderate-income students rely on the money raised by Junior Achievement to pay for their participation in the contest.

“I’m so proud that we have great support from our company for Junior Achievement,” said Todd. “Our president, Rich Endicott, as well as Darlene Esquerra and everyone else at our parent bank, Grandpoint Bank, have made their enthusiasm for this nonprofit organization very clear.”

Our bank, as well as Grandpoint Bank and its other divisions, has volunteered and sponsored Stock Market Challenge as well as other Junior Achievement financial literacy events like You’re Hired and BizTown.

“The students served by Junior Achievement are the people who will take care of us in the next 15 years,” said Todd. “We’ll be placing our retirement in their hands. Junior Achievement takes away the entitlement and teaches students what they can earn if they work hard.”

To find out more about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement, visit their website at
jaaz.org.↗ 

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Our Day at Junior Achievement’s “JA You’re Hired!” Event

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Imagine that you’re about to graduate from high school, but you’ve learned very little about how to land a job, including how to network, compose a resume, dress for an interview and much more. Most of us probably once found ourselves facing this exact scenario.

Lucky for them, some students get the preparation they need by participating in Junior Achievement’s JA You’re Hired! program. And fortunately for us, some of our team members from The Biltmore Bank of Arizona got to help those students develop the work-readiness skills required to transition from school into the work world.

The You’re Hired! program includes a rigorous, 10-session classroom curriculum led over several weeks by Junior Achievement volunteers, and it culminates in a half-day JA You’re Hired Challenge. This year’s Challenge, where our staff members Jeremy King, Desirae Outcalt, Darlene Esquerra, Todd Leveen, Bryan Ellisor and Nathaniel Spatz helped out, included more than 500 students from Phoenix-area high schools, all of whom had completed at least five of the ten preparatory classes.

The day began with a few schools participating in an interview workshop sponsored by The Biltmore Bank of Arizona. We asked the students questions similar to what someone interviewing for a teller or personal banker position with our bank would be asked. Career coaches guided the students through interview skills, like showing up early, making eye contact, shaking hands, researching the company in advance and more. Students who participated in this workshop had a definite advantage during the interview challenge later in the day.

Once all 500-plus students had arrived and convened in the large ballroom, they were tasked with a networking challenge. “A lot of the kids were quiet and shy coming off the buses, but they were running all over the room to meet people by the end of this challenge,” said Jeremy.

The students had one hour to meet as many of the 200 businesspeople volunteers as possible. Each had a bingo card with squares to fill in once they had met someone who met the criteria on the square – anything from someone who owns their own business to someone who speaks another language. The students were required to conduct themselves in a business-like fashion, so they had to introduce themselves and initiate conversation to find out the answers for their bingo cards.

Jeremy, who was volunteering for his second year at JA You’re Hired!, this time as an organizer as well as volunteer, was impressed by the number of kids who were already planning the trajectory of their future careers. “We even told a few of the kids that they were welcome to call us to interview for a job in the future,” he said.

After the networking challenge, where Desirae, Todd, Bryan, Nathaniel, Darlene and Jeremy all volunteered, the students participated in a creative marketing challenge, where they had to construct a product from loose materials in a box and develop an ad campaign; a STEM challenge, where they were tasked with figuring out math problems and puzzles; an interview challenge to test and hone their skills; and a thinking-on-your-feet challenge with real-life dilemmas to solve. The final challenge, called dress for success, caught the students off guard when they learned that select spies had been assessing their business attire at the networking event with the goal of presenting awards to the best-dressed school as well as best dressed boy and girl.

It was a tremendous day for these students, who learned very practical career skills, and for the volunteers who had a chance to give so many Phoenix-area kids a leg up in the business world.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to Todd, who serves on the Junior Achievement of Arizona board of directors and to Jeremy for working more than half a year on the JA You’re Hired! planning committee.

While we may not always think of ourselves as role models, it’s clear that you instantly become one when you volunteer at a Junior Achievement event. The business skills we come to take for granted can make all the difference in the world when you teach them to a young person. To find out more about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement, visit their website here.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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The Future is Bright – The Biltmore Bank of Arizona Team Mentors at Junior Achievement

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Approximately 400 Phoenix- and Tucson-area teens may have a leg up on their peers when it comes to job performance. That’s because a group of Biltmore bankers teamed up with Junior Achievement of Arizona↗ and other professionals from around town to put the students through their paces in real-world job skills and on-the-job problem solving.

Entitled You’re Hired!, the event, produced by Junior Achievement and held at the Phoenix Convention Center, gives students the chance to build professional networking, problem solving, team work and oratory skills that they can leverage in their future careers. With rounds of team and individual competition, the students take on a variety of challenges and receive feedback and advice from the business professional volunteers.

After receiving a briefing and some training from Junior Achievement staff, the adult volunteers take the students through their paces in three rounds of game playing.

  1. Networking Challenge – The students have the onus of approaching and engaging the volunteers in conversation to gather information about the volunteer. The volunteer then rates the student and provides feedback about what the student did well and where they can improve.
  2. Power Team Challenge – A volunteer oversees and times student teams while they assemble a project consisting of circuit boards and components.
  3. Thinking on Your Feet Challenge – Using a four-round bracket elimination system, the volunteers judge students as they solve workplace dilemmas posed to them on a card selected at random. The game challenges the students’ communication skills, critical thinking and ethics. The final three students move to the stage, where they each address one of the most difficult scenarios of the game, and one is declared the winner.

Junior Achievement of Arizona has been educating K-12 students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy since 1957. With offices in Tempe and Tucson, Junior Achievement of Arizona will engage over 90,000 students through its programs this year.

Seven team members from our bank (Bryan Ellisor, Todd Leveen, Paul Brodt, Nathaniel Spatz, Jeremy King, Desirae Outcalt and Darlene Esquerra) participated in the You’re Hired! event. Todd, Nathaniel and Desirae were quick to volunteer for a subsequent Junior Achievement session, held several weeks later.

“We all really enjoyed participating,” said Darlene, who coordinated the bank’s outreach with Junior Achievement. “You see some of the students shaking when they have to network with people they don’t know, because they’re not used to it. It’s great to be able to give them positive feedback and help them develop real-life skills.”

The sophomores, juniors and seniors, mostly from schools with high concentrations of low- to moderate-income communities, who participated in the event left with new skills and new ways of thinking about what they would do in the real-life work scenarios posed to them at You’re Hired!

“I know they’re going to remember this experience, and they’re going to put what they learned to work,” said Darlene.

For more information about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement of Arizona, visit their website.↗

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↗ Linking to Non-Biltmore Bank Websites

This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Biltmore Bank. Please be advised that if you click this link you will be taken to a website hosted by another party, where you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Biltmore Bank. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Biltmore Bank assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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