SOLEDAD — Congressman Jimmy Panetta spoke to students at Main Street Middle School during a May 28 visit to their campus as part of the school’s participation in the SIFMA Foundation’s Capitol Hill Challenge program.
The national 14-week financial education competition paired individual congress members with public schools in every congressional district to participate in an educational program that aims to teach a deeper understanding of personal finance and economics.
As part of the Foundation’s Stock Market Game, student teams are managing a hypothetical $100,000 online investment portfolio of listed stocks, bonds, mutual funds, impact investments and cash. Students learn about saving and investing and develop a better understanding of fiscal policymaking, the role of the capital markets, and global economic trends.
At the end of the competition, the top 10 performing teams win prizes and national recognition plus the chance to engage directly with government, business and education leaders, virtually or in-person. Panetta’s visit to a hybrid classroom included fewer than 10 in-person students and the rest attending virtually through computers.
Students had a chance to ask Panetta questions about government leadership. He discussed government borrowing due to low interest rates, the role of congress and the effect of technological advancements on the job market, in addition to offering some advice to the youth.
“What you’re doing now is a lot more advanced than I ever was at your age,” Panetta said to Main Street’s students. “I’m honored to be here. I commend you for being in this class, for actually wanting to talk about something that’s so important, and that’s your financial security.”
Panetta noted the increasing effect of technology on the area and the ability to adapt to industry shake-ups, such as disruption to the area hospitality jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said jobs could shift toward more engineering and technician-based.
“We’re going to have to understand that type of technology in order to have wind turbines up the coast of California,” Panetta said. He explained those future jobs are ones congress wants “to make them not just accessible, but to make them doable and make it more convenient for everybody to be involved in.”
Before leaving, Panetta offered encouragement for students who might not know what their path in life is.
“If you don’t know what goals you have, my advice is always do something,” he said. “Always go forward and that’s going to provide you with more opportunities upon which you can then have more decisions to make and more opportunities for you to go forward … always continue to advance toward what you want to do.”
The SIFMA Capitol Hill Challenge began in 2004 with the aim of helping students become financially capable. Since its beginning, the program has coordinated more than 5,500 matches of U.S. representatives and senators with middle and high schools, reaching more than 133,000 students.
“SIFMA Foundation is proud to offer every member of congress an extraordinary opportunity to help their local public schools access financial education and keep students excited and engaged in learning through the Capitol Hill Challenge,” said Melanie Mortimer, president of the SIFMA Foundation. “By investing in financial capability, we are investing in the success of our youth, our democracy and this nation.”