After a decade supporting the world's best investment education, the Edwards Foundation has created and established the Edwards Initiative, a public 501(c3) foundation committed to growing the programs' success in order to impact more people—and to using an award-winning methodology to tackle additional financial topics.

This isn't your typical approach of throwing money and programs at the problem of financial illiteracy. If students aren't engaged they won't learn. If teachers are burdened it won't be used. If the content isn't relevant it doesn't matter.

The online simulations supported here are modeled from highly successful programs used to teach adults the basics of long-term investing. Programs that have routinely received 95% plus approval ratings in the workplace. Programs that have helped adults experience, for example, the magic of compounding, prompting many to say, "I wish I had learned this when I was younger." A wish you can help us pay forward to the next generation.

It's time to change the norm—to grow the financial education revolution.

2017 Program Recap

“The purpose of the Edwards Initiative is to bring together those looking to sponsor world-class financial education with those who can benefit from it.”


So if both the message and the methodology matter, how do we do this?

What we've discovered over years of testing is really not that surprising: many of life's most important lessons are best learned through experience. The problem is, when it comes to financial issues the lessons often come too late.

That's why programs offered through the Edwards Initiative use simulations as a way to let students experience those "wow" moments, like when you discover the magic of compounding. Or when you discover that losing money in the stock market isn't cause for panic but rather is a normal part of a longer-term process that can be expected and managed.

It's involvement-based education, because tell me/show me simply isn't good enough.

Tell me and I'll forget;
Show me and I may remember;
Involve me and I'll understand.


The online Investment Education Challenge is a multi-week simulation that uses investing as a context for making math fun and relevant for middle school students. The simulation runs on computers, laptops, and smart phones and takes about five minutes per week to complete. The program is targeted to 6th through 8th grade students.

Students answer investment related math questions to earn “simulation dollars” and then invest their money in a Conservative, Balanced, or Aggressive portfolio. Each week covers five simulated years so that the entire 8-week simulation represents a 40-year investment period.

Over the course of the 8-week simulation, students are engaged in a dynamic story that helps them discover the secret of how they can be a millionaire by the time they retire.

Teachers have ongoing access to data regarding student participation and performance. The math problems included in the simulation were reviewed with Kenton County Math Consultant Jenny Barrett to ensure compliance with the 7th grade math curriculum.

"The Investment Challenge has provided a high interest context for students to apply the math they are learning in class and will need to master in order to reach College Readiness. The program is an excellent supplement to the seventh grade curriculum as it teaches students the power of long term investing as they learn how to become a millionaire."

Jenny Barrett
Middle/High School Math Consultant, Kenton County KY School District


The Investment Simulation 2018 is a modified version of an award-winning simulation designed to offer engaging long‐term investment education to a corporate 401(k) audience. Participants guide a character (which they can customize for age, salary, beginning balance and investment strategy) through participation in a simulated company 401(k) plan. The simulation runs on computers, laptops, and smart phones and takes about ten minutes to complete. The program is targeted to high school and college students as well as adults.

The simulation helps high school and college students prepare for participation in a company retirement plan. For adults it helps them get the most out of their existing plans. Participants learn key concepts about how typical 401(k) plans work, the major types of investments, contributions and employer match, asset allocation, diversification, mutual funds (including target date funds), various types of risk and strategies to manage risk over time, the power of compounding, and a perspective on the normal ups and downs of the financial markets.

For teachers or leaders of adult groups, the simulation offers a way to ensure their students/members have access to meaningful investment education without a need to be an expert themselves. Teachers have protected access to student participation and performance.

Sample student comments:

"Great Program. Really helps people understand the potential options for their future."

"Loved it! Thanks for this program. Informative and easy to understand."

"This program is awesome. REALLY opens my eyes to what options I have for the future. Great work!"

"Wow! That was so much fun..."

Sample adult comments:

"Wow...that was cool! It puts everything in a layman's is readable and understandable."

"I was skeptical about how much to invest in my 401k because this is the first job I've ever had that I benefit from, after taking this course I understand much better and am excited to start!"

"I am a visual person and seeing how much of a difference an increase in my contributions makes towards my retirement is a huge benefit."

"This has just amazed me, I’m lost for words."


Like the Investment Challenge 2018, the Weekly Challenge 2018 is adapted from a highly successful educational program designed for a corporate 401(k) audience. Over the course of four weeks, participants are presented with puzzles or other engaging activities designed to help them think about retirement investing in a different way.

Week 1 uses a “zero knowledge” game to illustrate how difficult it is to achieve a goal if you don’t know the rules and compared this to the difficulty in retirement planning. A well-known riddle is used to emphasize the most important factor in investing.

Week 2 uses a magic trick to introduce an exploration of the “magic of compounding.”

Week 3 uses a classic test of overconfidence to illustrate how difficult it is to predict things, including the stock market, leading to an exploration of how asset allocation (and target date funds) can be used to manage risk over time.

Week 4 uses classic brain teasers to illustrate how “labels” can be misleading and uses the concept of a “four-sided coin” to explore the interaction between time and risk in the stock market.

Sample student comments:

"I thought that the program was very eye-opening, and fun. Eye-Opening in the sense that it was informative not only after you won, but also during the game. It was fun, because I wasn't quite sure what I was doing, but i enjoyed doing it."

"Great questions and examples, helps reinforce the notion concerning investing, to make someone think about the time, discipline and knowledge."

"Explains the magic behind compound interest, and how it effects money over time."

"I was unaware of the impact of time on the markets, and that investing over a long period of time drastically reduces risk."

"I loved it!"

Sample adult comments:

"Each small puzzle made for an effective metaphor in showing the importance of managing retirement expectations."

"Great questions and examples, helps reinforce the notion concerning investing, to make someone think about the time, discipline and knowledge."

"Creative reminder that it’s important to deliberately define your goal before you can achieve. Plus its short and fun puzzles which is so much better than several paragraphs to read."

"This was fun!! I liked this gamification way of learning :)"

"Intriguing. I never looked at things that way."


The Portfolios workshops feature the Portfolios Investment Simulation Game, a long-term investment simulation that teaches concepts that individuals must understand in order to make decisions regarding retirement plans. Players learn about investing by experiencing investing. During the course of the 10-year simulation they discuss and implement asset allocation strategies, collect interest and dividends, experience realistic market changes, calculate portfolio values and percentage returns, and learn how concepts of compounding, diversification, risk, and defining goals relate to the decisions they will make in real life.

Northern Kentucky University has hosted spring and fall Portfolios events for regional high school students since 2006.

Sample student comments:

"The program was extremely eye opening and fun. I enjoyed it."

"This was the single most interesting game I have played. It's simple and really opened my mind to investing."

"I had a great time in this program! It truly makes me want to invest."


Sample teacher comments:

"Great experience for kids. Gives them a 'real world' look into the investment world. Helps them 'connect the dots' up on the info/terms they've used in class. Fun way to learn. Promotes teamwork by working in pairs. Win/win experience for students. Gives them a chance to hear material from someone different than teacher—clarifies info for teacher."

"Still the best program out there in getting students to work in teams, to strategize, to communicate, to use math skills, and to simulate the real world."

"Very educational. Covers many subjects, jobs, careers, investments, saving money, smart decision making."

"Wonderful! Wish I had it in school."


One of the purposes of the Edwards Initiative is to expand what have been very successful programs in the Northern Kentucky / Cincinnati area to impact more students in the region and, ultimately, across the country.

To do that we need not only sponsors, but also host organizations interested in helping to get the word out to middle schools, high schools, and universities in their area as well as to interested organizations with adult members.

This can be done in a number of ways. It can be an organization that already has connections with the schools. It can be a corporation that offers to help support programs at schools for the children of their employees, and so on.

In recognition of this important role, the online programs will include branding of the host organization. It's a simple yet powerful way to be a part of the financial education revolution!

Be a Host

In order for this financial education revolution to succeed, we need to get the word out! Host organizations can help by partnering with us to make a real difference.


The Edwards Initiative is a public 501(c3) foundation dedicated to bringing together those looking to sponsor world-class financial education with those who can benefit from it.

The Edwards Initiative is proud to support programs developed by Ninthwave LLC, the principals of which are pioneers in the area of involvement-based education, or what many people now refer to as "gamification." Over twenty years of experience developing and delivering high-impact programs to people of all ages has helped determine what works and—more importantly—what doesn't.

For us, the content matters. To achieve the desired impact, an educational game/simulation must be:

It's a high standard, but one we believe is paramount for success.

In Progress

One of our near-term goals is to take the successful methodoloty of programs that primarily focus on investment education and apply it to address other important financial issues. To that end, the My Simulated Life programs currently in development will allow high school and college students to actually live through the next few years of their lives in a fun way, but in a way that exposes them to many of the decisions they'll soon face in the real world. They can make choices and learn from the consequences —good and bad—and be better prepared when they do it real life.


Alexander Crickmer
Vice President

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