SOMERSET, NJ - Need financial advice? Look no further than Franklin Middle School. 

Emily Lopez an 8th grader at FMS won the InvestWrite essay contest, sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), on Tuesday. 

"These essays take a lot of thought, creativity, and effort and we were completely moved by the amount of knowledge and passion showcased in student essays," Melanie Mortimer, SIFMA Foundation president said. "As it turns out, the Fall 2017 InvestWrite essay that placed first for the state of New Jersey was written by a Franklin Middle School student."

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Later in the program, it was revealed that Lopez not only won the state contest but she also won the national competition beating out thousands of other middle school students, from across the nation. 

Drum roll, please... 

Lopez was surprised by her friends and family during the ceremony in front of her classmates from 8th-grade, math teacher, Deborah Gadek's class. 

Julieth Orjueln, Lopez's proud mother said they had to keep the surprise of her big win away from her since hearing the good news from Gadek. 

"We are very proud of her we love her, she has an amazing family behind her and we all love her," Orjueln said. "She always pushes herself that is who she is, she pushes no matter how hard something is, she just keeps working at it."

Students in Gadek's class participated in the InvestWrite contest in addition to playing the Stock Market Game. 

The Stock Market Game is an online simulation of the global capital markets that reinforce STEM learning, 21st Century skills, economics, investing and personal finance, according to the SIFMA. 

The SIFMA's InvestWrite competition challenged students to write their essay on what a nonprofit should do to manage their money and to help it grow while protecting it from risks. 

According to the SIFMA, InvestWrite enables students to develop the personal financial savvy needed to make practical financial decisions with confidence and gain a deeper understanding of economic opportunities, consequences, and benefits. 

Lopez chose to write her essay on the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) because she is familiar with the organization through a close family friend. Lopez's winning advice suggested the WWP should invest donations to help increase its funds. 

She recommended that the WWP allocate 20 percent of their assets to an interest-bearing savings account, 20 percent in short-term liquid investments and 60 percent in diversified long-term investments. 

"Organizations such as WWP and other non-profits assisting veterans are necessary to help our soldiers come home and live the lives they deserve," Lopez said in her essay. "Utilizing the investment portfolio of long and short-term investments as well as immediate access to cash, my non-profit organization will be able to provide necessary services to veterans as well as guarantee the sustainability of the organization and its mission."

Mortimer said in Fall 2017, close to 9,000 students submitted essays for the competition. About 4,000 came from high school students, 3,150 submissions were from middle school students, and 2,000 came from elementary students. 

Thousands of financial professionals and teachers served as volunteer judges, according to the SIFMA. 

About the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education

The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds, with a focus on youth.  Drawing on the support and expertise of the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunities across communities and increase individuals’ access to the benefits of the global marketplace. Notable Foundation programs include The Stock Market Game, which has served 17 million students since it began in 1977, the InvestWrite® national essay competition, www.investwrite.org, the Capitol Hill Challenge, and Invest It Forward. For more information on the work of the SIFMA Foundation, visit www.sifma.org/about/sifma-foundation.

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