The Stock Market Game is a curriculum-based teaching tool that allows students to invest a hypothetical $100,000 online stock portfolio to learn about long-term saving and investing.

While the Oscars and all of the attention surrounding Slumdog Millionaire may have provided a nice escape from reality as of late, the status of the economy has remained relatively unchanged -- downright gloomy, with jobless claims on the rise and a tumbling stock market. The Dow closed the week down 4.1%. For the month of February, the index dropped 11.7%, and year-to-date, it has lost 19.5%. (Don't miss "GE Cuts Dividend, Markets Fall Into Weekend".)

But the main focus for many on Wall Street last week was President Obama's federal budget for the next 10 years. It includes a two-tiered mission: Reduce the $1 trillion-plus deficit and make big investments in the future. But what may be of particular interest to your Stock Market Game students is the President's promise for more money for conservation and renewable energy. The plan includes an effort to double the production of renewable energy in three years through loans and tax breaks, while also providing more money for cleaner power plants and for transforming the country's aging electric grid.

For those just joining the spring semester of the program, the "buy what you know" strategy may be appropriate, but in light of the current buzz around green energy, we will take a step back and highlight socially responsible investing (SRI) this week.

For many, being "green" means recycling plastic and glass containers and newspapers, limiting the amount of water we use, as well as turning off the lights when we leave the room. For investors, it can also mean investing in companies that do all of this as well as generate a healthy return on investments. Socially responsible investing, a category that includes "green" investing, generally refers to investing in public companies whose goals and primary business practices work toward the benefit of society.

"Green" companies may avoid contributing to climate change, while also adhering to acceptable environmental and human rights standards. SRI can also be driven by religious and political affiliations as well, so there can be a debate about what makes a company responsible or an investment acceptable.

How do your Stock Market Game students find more information about companies that adhere to "green" or socially responsible standards? The Web site www.socialinvest.org is a great place to begin, as it provides research, news and information on social investing. The site www.socialfunds.com offers additional resources on SRI mutual funds and daily social investment news.

Not only can students invest in individual stocks, but there is a huge variety of "green" mutual funds and ETFs (exchange-traded funds) from which to choose. Your students may also want to check out www.kld.com. This site provides a "screen" to determine whether are acting in ways that are consistent with sound progressive standards of corporate conduct in the areas of climate change and human rights.

To further your students' exposure to SRI and "green" investing, please take a look at the "Going Green" project in the Teacher Support Center. This project introduces students to the concept of "environmentally responsible investing" through activities based on the book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Students will examine how companies balance their need for raw material with their need to manage those same resources to insure future availability and supply. It is accessible in the "Projects" section of the Teacher Support Center.

To learn more about The Stock Market Game, visit www.stockmarketgame.org.
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This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.

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