Former Newark Academy parents Bruce and Ilene Jacobs wanted to give students the ability to gain exposure to, and familiarity with, a prudent approach to investing. Motivated by Bruce’s own passion for investing – which ultimately became a career in managing portfolios for endowments, foundations and retirement funds – the Jacobses gave a generous donation to NA in August 2000 to establish the Bruce Jacobs Student-Managed Endowment Fund. The fund is now managed each year by a group of students who gain insight into the world of finance and investment through experiential learning. Meeting quarterly, the group of students – known as the Student Endowment Committee – is supervised by NA Director of Business and Finance Sam Goldfischer.
The Bruce Jacobs Fund has allowed students to gain familiarity with the capital markets and to gain investment experience in managing an endowment or personal portfolio using a variety of low-cost index funds (including various stock and bond funds) at the Vanguard Group. Additionally, income from the Jacobs’ gift is used to support various school activities related to economics and investments, such as a field trip to the New York Stock Exchange and a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.
Thanks to what Sam refers to as “some real movers and shakers,” the student group has thrived, growing the endowment by 2.5 times, with several students standing out through the years. One of these was Christopher Davis ’12, who joined the club while still in Middle School after a suggestion from a faculty advisor.
For Christopher, the opportunity was invaluable. “I had a literal seat at the table, because the top one or two people from the Student Endowment Committee had to present to the Investment Committee of the Newark Academy Board of Trustees,” he says. “Talk about a total confidence builder.
If you can handle those questions from very senior, very talented investment professionals, that is just a phenomenal experience because making a presentation to an investment committee is a mid-to-late career responsibility for most people who go into finance.” Christopher, who graduated from Columbia University, is now a partner at Hudson Value Partners, a New York-based value investment boutique that he recently started with his father.
Zach Burd ’19 also recognizes the value of the Student Endowment Committee as a primer for college and the world of finance. A freshman at Duke University, Zach plans to major in economics with a concentration in finance, aiming for a career on Wall Street. Zach has already learned the basic ins and outs of the financial markets, from industry jargon to the pros and cons of portfolio relocation.
“My experience on the Student Endowment Committee was much more valuable than participating in a stock market game or finance simulation because what we did mattered – we were controlling vast sums of real money for a real endowment, not playing with fake money,”
Zach says. “Our meetings were consumed with long and heated debates over proposed transactions, in which club members needed to be able to defend their point of view from the probing questions of other members.”
Anish Nuni ’19, a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, also realizes just how valuable this experience was for his educational and professional journey, providing connections in the finance industry. In presenting to the Board in May 2019, the students
impressed Trustee Larry Wieseneck, who was then chair of the Finance Committee and who is co-president of Cowen and Company. Anish recalls, “Mr. Wieseneck was kind enough to allow Zach and me to visit his company for a day to meet people working in different areas of investment banking.”