CHICAGO — Students on Chicago‘s Southwest Side are playing the stock market with real money thanks to a financial literacy project.

The new partnership between Chicago Public Schools and Cabrera Capital Markets aims to strengthen the financial literacy and planning skills of students and families at Richard Henry Lee Elementary School.

Families will get financial literacy education in inventing and saving, exposure to investment opportunities and help to enroll in 529 college savings plans.

The partnership will also give students real money so they can research and execute stock trades, learn about the financial markets and earn money for college.

Each class, from kindergarten to eighth grade, will get $20,000 to invest from investment banker Martin Cabrera Jr., partner Robert Aguilar and Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez is pleased to see students learning about the stock market and mortgage rates.

“But they’re also talking about budgets,” Martinez said. “How to use resources, how to save money in the bank, how to invest.”

The first hurdle is getting parents and students to open the Bright Start Illinois College Savings Programs, which can be difficult to do for some working families struggling to meet ends meet.

“It’s hard and I think we wanted to kick start it by giving each student $100 to start on top of the $20,000 for each class,” Cabrera said.

Half of the $20,000 goes to the state treasurer and the Illinois 529 savings program and the other half goes to students to be able to research and invest in stocks.

“So when they graduate from eighth grade, half of the money from the proceeds, their profits, will go to their 529 plan,” Cabrera said. “And the other half, back to the school with the $20,000 reinvested into the next kindergarten class.”

Aguilar, the president of Cabrera Capital Markets, said they wanted to build a program that is sustainable.

The company is making a commitment to the students and their hardworking parents, many of them, recent immigrants. The hope is the students will help teach their parents financial literacy.