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Release: Immediate

UI's online trading program wins $443,000 grant to expand nationally

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- About 5,400 students across the country will get a high-tech introduction to economic literacy during the next three years, thanks to a $443,000 grant to the University of Iowa College of Business Administration and a partnership of 45 colleges, and educational associations and advocates for minority education.

The three-year grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education will expand the use of the Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM) as a teaching and research tool to two-year community colleges and four-year liberal arts colleges with large minority populations.

Partners in the project include the National Coalition for Black Voter Participation, the American Association of Community Colleges, American Association of Community Colleges; the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIEHEC); the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); and Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs).

The goal is to increase the economic literacy of students at colleges by creating an engaging, up-to-date curricula for business education, says Robert Forsythe, associate dean of the College of Business Administration and a founder of the IEM.

"We're hoping that students in business, economics, political science and other majors at these colleges will see how vitally important and exciting it can be to have first-hand knowledge of how markets work, how trades are conducted and how social and political issues affect the economy," he says. "In a sense, this grant will democratize a very valuable teaching tool."

The FIPSE grant covers about 34.5 percent of the project's total budget of $1.3 million. The UI will provide $448,900 and participating institutions will support a total of $408,788 of the budget. Much of the support from the educational institutions is in-kind support, such as faculty salaries.

Developed in 1988 as the "Iowa Political Stock Market," the IEM is an online system for conducting contracts and futures trading in markets designed to interest students in the concept of financial markets. The IEM is perhaps best known for its markets for presidential political campaigns, where its "predictions" are frequently more accurate than most public opinion polling.

Making trades online, in real-time, students invest actual money, between $5 and $500, in the IEM and try to maximize their investment by making trades based on what they think the outcome of the market will be. Among other things, this grant will provide $5 trading accounts for students at participating institutions.

Since its founding, nearly 200 universities, colleges, community colleges, and high schools have logged on to the IEM.

Forsythe says expanding the economic literacy of students around the country is crucial. A 1992 poll conducted by the National Center for Research in Economic Education and the Gallup Organization indicated that only 39 percent of Americans could correctly answer questions on current economic issues. Only 51 percent of the college seniors surveyed could answer the questions correctly.

"These students will be entering an economy that's getting more and more complicated," Forsythe says. "Their prosperity hinges on their economic literacy."

Beginning with fall 1997, the new program will enroll 15 colleges for each of three years, bringing the total to 45. Faculty at each college will take seminars on how to use the IEM and how to use it in their classrooms.

Faculty in the project will use the curricula to teach other faculty at other institutions, disseminating the project across the country.

The markets can be geared to local elections in each community, adding to the interest students will have in participating, Forsythe says. For example, a market could be set up to trade in the outcome of the mayoral race in particular cities or on the outcome of local referenda.

The grant will be used to set up the initial contact and development of trading between the IEM and other colleges. After three years, organizers hope the relationships will continue as interest in the program grows.

To learn more about the Iowa Electronic Markets, visit the program's website at

EDITORS NOTE: Here is a list of four-year liberal arts colleges, two-year community colleges and organizations participating in the University of Iowa College of Business Administration's $440,000 grant to expand the use of the Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM) to 45 institutions nationally. Participants are listed alphabetically, organized by state.



Tallahassee: Florida A&M University;


Atlanta: Morris Brown College; Clark Atlanta University;


Chicago: Ark Capital Management; Chicago State University; First Chicago Bank; Illinois Institute of Technology; Irwin/McGraw Hill;


Bettendorf: Scott Community College;

Calmar: Northeast Iowa Community College;

Cedar Rapids: Kirkwood Community College;

Council Bluffs: Iowa Western Community College;

Des Moines: Des Moines Area Community College;

Estherville: Iowa Lakes Community College;

Fort Dodge: Iowa Central Community College;


Baton Rouge: Southern University;

New Orleans: Dillard University; Southern University at New Orleans;


Baltimore: Morgan State University;

Bowie: Bowie State University;


Las Vegas: New Mexico Highlands University;


New York: The City College of the City University of New York;


Charlotte: Johnson C. Smith University;

Durham: North Carolina Central University;


Nashville: Fisk University;


Prairie View: Prairie View A&M University;



American Association of Community Colleges;

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIEHEC);

Association of Community College Trustees;

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU);

Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs);

National Coalition on Black Voter Participation;

United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration;