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TVA’s Investment Challenge Students Deliver Double-digit Returns

Mar 23, 2021

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – University students in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Investment Challenge Program delivered double-digit returns in 2020, outpacing the S&P 500 Total Return Index for the calendar year, despite tremendous market volatility brought on by COVID-19. 

“The year 2020 was difficult, and to see the Investment Challenge teams overcome adversity to outperform trained market professionals is exceptional,” said TVA Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Risk Officer Tammy Wilson. “For over two decades, the Investment Challenge Program has inspired the next generation of financial professionals and advanced the careers of over 10,000 students by teaching quantitative, qualitative and teamwork skills that are highly valued by today’s employers.”

Students from 24 universities in TVA’s seven-state area generated a 22.79% average return on investment in 2020. Nineteen Investment Challenge teams outperformed the S&P 500 by an average of 18.40%. Teams that outperform the S&P 500 in a calendar year earn performance awards for their respective universities.

These top-performing teams beat the S&P 500 in 2020 to earn awards:

  • Alabama A&M University
  • Austin Peay State University
  • Belmont University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Lipscomb University
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Mississippi University for Women
  • Murray State University
  • Tennessee State University
  • Tennessee Tech University
  • Union University
  • University of Memphis
  • University of North Alabama
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • University of Tennessee at Martin
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Western Carolina University
  • Western Kentucky University

“The Investment Challenge Program exemplifies TVA’s legacy of service, and it’s an excellent program for students to interact with working professionals and gain practical experience by managing real portfolios with faculty oversight and appropriate guardrails,” said Wilson.

TVA’s Investment Challenge is one of the nation’s largest student-managed investor programs. Each year, student teams actively manage stock portfolios for TVA, designing long-term investment strategies and selecting investments under the guidance of faculty members and within investment guidelines established and monitored by TVA. Students have collectively outperformed the S&P 500 total return of 7.73% by 68 basis points annually since inception in 1998; an excess cumulative return of 78%. Through 2020, assets managed in the Investment Challenge have grown to $14 million primarily through positive investment returns. Investment Challenge teams have earned $1.3 million in performance awards for their schools over the life of the program.

Other participating universities include Christian Brothers University, Trevecca Nazarene University, University of Alabama in Huntsville, University of Kentucky and the University of Mississippi.  

For more information about the Investment Challenge Program, visit

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation. 


Scott Fiedler
Public Relations
[email protected]

TVA Media Line

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