Magnetar Capital Foundation donates $5 million for youth financial education

Partnership with UChicago STEM Education to improve access for high school students

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

A new partnership between UChicago STEM Education and the Magnetar Capital Foundation will expand access to financial education for high school students.

The Magnetar Capital Foundation, parent organization of the Magnetar Youth Investment Academy, will provide UChicago STEM Education with $5 million over four and a half years to further develop and grow the academy’s high school financial education program.

“With one-third of adults in the United States and two-thirds of adults globally lacking in financial literacy, there is a pressing need to reach more children with consumer and financial literacy before they graduate high school and begin accumulating debt,” said Alec Litowitz, founder and CEO of Magnetar Capital, a leading alternative asset manager. “We look forward to this partnership with UChicago STEM Education making meaningful progress in that important effort.”

“By leveraging the deep experience at the University of Chicago, we are expanding our ability to reach more high school students with vital financial education lessons that will benefit them throughout their lives,” said Ross Laser, co-founder and president of Magnetar Capital.

The Magnetar Capital Foundation began the academy five years ago to provide a 30-hour financial education curriculum and teacher training for free to Chicago-area high schools. In that time, the program has reached nearly 6,000 students and expanded from two high schools in the 2011–2012 school year to 50 high schools and 150 classrooms today.

“We are excited to work with Magnetar in growing this program,” said Andy Isaacs, UChicago STEM Education’s executive director. “We have a rich history of working with educators and administrators from Chicago and across the country in evaluating and building models and tools that improve pre-college education. Through our multiple platforms and broad networks of educators and institutions, we can expand the reach and impact of Magnetar’s program.”

“We are proud to have created a financial literacy curriculum that is field-tested by experienced educators and well-integrated into the classroom. UChicago STEM Education’s expertise in K–12 education will help scale what we have started and fill a need for additional teacher training and student tools,” said David Snyderman, managing partner and global head of fixed income at Magnetar Capital.

Under the new partnership, UChicago STEM Education will oversee and administer the project, will continue to design, develop and refine a flexible and modern set of tools to enable teachers to deliver robust lessons to students, and will develop a data-rich infrastructure to strengthen and measure implementation, ongoing improvement and growth. 

“This partnership highlights the immense impact that UChicago STEM Education has had on K-12 education and educators,” said Rocky Kolb, dean of the Physical Sciences Division. “UChicago STEM Education will use existing relationships with school districts to mutually advance financial education instruction in additional Chicago-area schools and will continue to develop relationships in Chicago and cities across the country to further connect the academy’s work with key financial literacy stakeholders. It builds on UChicago’s long history of instructional excellence, K-12 educational research and development, and service and partnership with the Chicagoland community.”

UChicago STEM Education staff will foster a network of energized and committed teachers to deliver the curriculum, actively participate with staff to refine the curriculum and engage other teachers to expand the program’s reach. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will work closely with Magnetar and UChicago STEM Education to ensure the refined curriculum is available to any student or teacher who wishes to use it.

UChicago STEM Education pioneered the Everyday Mathematics curriculum that is used by more than four million students each year in the United States. It will draw upon that experience in scaling educational programs to help develop financial education materials from Magnetar in its next phase of growth.