Photo of three students

About Magnetar Academy


The Magnetar Academy program is a comprehensive financial education course for Chicagoland high school students, coupled with professional development and networks for financial education teachers and strategic support for schools and districts seeking to ensure their graduates are financially empowered. Originally started by Magnetar Capital, an Evanston-based investment firm, the program has reached more than 10,000 high school students in over 450 Chicago area high school classrooms. The Magnetar Academy consists of several interconnected pieces, including a curriculum, the team challenge, professional development for teachers, and a host of supplemental materials.

Program Reach

“I have many students in my program who struggle to come to school, and they are 100% there on days that there is Magnetar at 8:30 in the morning.”

Project Teacher

Since its founding in 2011, almost 10,000+ students have participated in the Academy, building the skills they need to lead financially smart lives—both now and in the future. Today, the Academy is offered at over 60 Chicago area high schools and is in place in a variety of school types—from traditional public schools to selective enrollment, charter, and independent schools.

  • Over 150 teachers have been trained to teach financial education and have taught the curriculum in 450 classrooms.
  • Students participate in the Magnetar Academy during a variety of courses including mathematics, business, economics, civics, or college and career readiness.
    • In some schools entire grade levels enroll in the Magnetar Academy.
  • Enrolled schools can attend the Magnetar Academy Team Challenge, an event where students teams showcase their knowledge about money and investing through a stock trading simulation.
    • 100+ teams have competed at the Team Challenge where they have been mentored by 250+ financial professional volunteers.
Program reach infographic

Program Impact

The program has a powerful impact on teachers and students, with word of mouth being the program’s major source of growth. Teachers find the program impactful, engaging, and necessary enough to motivate their colleagues to teach the program too.

An evaluation commissioned in 2014 found that students who completed the program reported many positive changes in behavior. Students who completed the program were more likely to:

  • Track their expenses
  • Set aside money for their future
  • Use a budget
  • Discuss money management with their family

“I’ve been teaching for 20 years and have never seen students more engaged.”

Project teacher

“[My students] felt empowered. They felt like they know what to do with money and a lot of them say they talk to their family members about what they learned.”

Project Teacher

“I want my students to be very knowledgeable about how they spend their money, where their money goes. I want them to know about savings and investing. I want them to be a better consumer.”

Project Teacher