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Launched in 2009, the Voya-Girls Inc. “Investment Challenge” has made great strides in empowering girls to take charge of their financial futures, reinforcing sound investing principles and encouraging participants to pursue post-secondary education.

Voya Foundation, which focuses on children’s and financial education, launched the program to provide girls between the ages of 12 and 18 the opportunity to learn and participate in the stock market. Teams of girls participated in a three-year long investment and financial literacy curriculum by Girls Inc. staff and Voya Financial employee volunteers.  The girls were empowered to manage real-time $50,000 stock portfolios over the course of the program, with two-thirds of the participating girls’ portfolio gains awarded to them in the form of college scholarships upon their completion.

Since inception, Voya has invested over $2.5 million, plus scholarships, in the Investment Challenge and related materials. More than 100 girls successfully graduated from the three-year program that was held in nine locations across seven different states and the District of Columbia.  

Top gaining stock portfolios

Outcomes at a glance:

  • 74 girls opened a savings account after participating in the program.
  • 14 girls opened investment accounts after participating in the program.¹
  • The majority of girls shared the knowledge gained in the program with at least one other person.² 
  • 90% of program graduates who have already graduated high school have matriculated to college using their scholarships.3 
  • 21 participating Voya employees volunteered hundreds of hours to guiding the girls through the program.

1From cycles A and B
2From cycle C
3Cycles A and B only, cycles C and D not yet of college age. 

How the program worked

With the help and guidance of trained Girls Inc. staff and Voya employee volunteers, 12 teams of girls ages 12–18 completed eight financial-literacy sessions that focused on the basics of saving, investing and financial planning. 

The challenge was governed by a set of guidelines relating to core investing principles such as asset allocation, diversification, portfolio turnover and valuation, which were intended to encourage sound, long-term investing behaviors. To give the girls gradual exposure to the markets and to help teach and reinforce these fundamental principles, the girls invested in mutual funds for the first six months of the challenge. After that time, they were allowed to invest in individual securities. 

The teams began investing in their virtual portfolio with $20,000. This amount was supplemented monthly over the course of the year until each team received a total of $50,000. After the end of the three-year investing cycle, any gains in excess of the original investment were returned to Girls Inc. with 66 percent going to the participants in the form of scholarship dollars.

About Girls Inc.

Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, providing girls across the U.S. and Canada with life-changing experiences and solutions to the unique challenges girls face. The Girls Inc. Experience consists of people, an environment, and programming that, together, empower girls to succeed. Trained staff and volunteers build lasting, mentoring relationships in girls-only spaces that are physically and emotionally safe and where girls find a sisterhood of support with shared drive, mutual respect, and high expectations. Hands-on, research-based programs provide girls with the skills and knowledge to set goals, overcome obstacles, and improve academic performance. Informed by girls and their families, Girls Inc. also works with policymakers to advocate for legislation and initiatives that increase opportunities for girls. At Girls Inc., girls grow up healthy, educated, and independent. Learn more at girlsinc.org.