Photo by mikejuinwind123 [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by mikejuinwind123 [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
A privately held investment firm announced Monday a pledge of $250,000 to fund UCI’s annual LIFEvest Financial Literacy Program for underserved eighth- and ninth-graders from Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

Offered through the Center for Investment and Wealth Management at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business, the weeklong LIFEvest program provides a foundation of financial knowledge for its young participants.

PAAMCO’s pledge will be paid out over the course of five years in $50,000 increments.

“PAAMCO is pleased to partner with UCI on this important initiative,” said PAAMCO CEO Jane Buchan. “It can be very powerful at this young age to learn about the potential a career in finance may offer and the personal financial planning skills that are so vital to gaining access to higher education and a successful life.”

Lee Anne Maki, associate director of the Center for Investment and Wealth Management, said the program “has already helped hundreds of young students.”

“In fact, 90 percent of the students who attended our first program in 2010 have enrolled in college; many of them are the first in their families to do so,” Maki said.

LIFEvest was launched that year as an annual, one-week-long, on-campus program designed to serve about 30 students. The latest session held Aug. 2-8 had 40 participants.

PAAMCO’s gift will enable the program to expand to offer two sections per year; one for girls and one for boys, said Kara Duckworth of Duckworth Wealth Advisors, who chairs the LIFEvest program.

“We fundraise all year for this program which costs approximately $2,100 per student, or about $90,000 per section,” she said. “PAAMCO’s pledge provides critical seed funding that will augment what we have been able to raise each year, but we still need significant support from the business community if we are to expand our program for the long term.”

Through what’s described as a rigorous academic program, LIFEvest “attempts to strengthen high-potential students’ understanding of financial matters, encourage admission into a four-year college or university, expose students to career options and inspire confidence and success in all areas of life,” according to organizers.

“With growing income disparity in the U.S., a large segment of the population is being left behind; providing an understanding of financial fundamentals is paramount to combating poverty and progressing our communities forward,” said Andrew J. Policano, economics professor and faculty director for the Center for Investment and Wealth Management.

“Financial education is an essential life skill that is not being taught nearly enough in our schools or homes,” he said. “By partnering with local nonprofit social impact organizations, we are able to provide this education, not just to the selected students in our program, but also to their families, school peers, and other participants in the nonprofit programs as our students share what they learn.”

To learn more about the program, go to

—Staff and wire reports

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