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Kresge Foundation powers new investment fund at Wayne State University

The Kresge Foundation and Wayne State University officials today announced a $2 million student-managed investment fund that complements a course designed to teach students the essentials of portfolio management and stock evaluation and selection. The fund is a carve-out of the foundation’s $3.8 billion endowment and is intended to provide real-world investment experience to Wayne State business school undergraduates while exposing them to local career opportunities in investment management.

Students will manage the fund out of the new home of the Mike Ilitch School of Business when it opens for classes this fall. The state-of-the-art setting for this educational opportunity features a finance and data analytics lab, which is equipped with professional financial tools including 12 dual-screen Bloomberg terminals and a real-time stock market ticker that is visible from Woodward Avenue. A grant from Kresge helped the school purchase the terminals.

The new fund will be run by undergraduate students in the school’s Portfolio Management course under the direction of Brandon Tasco, an investment professional at DTE Energy and an adjunct faculty member in the Ilitch School’s Department of Finance, and an advisory board composed of industry professionals. The course was created in 2015 with seed funding from Fifth Third Bancorp, Ford Motor Co. and Lear Corp.

Kresge Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Rob Manilla said Kresge is supporting the student-management investment fund to bolster a talent pipeline of candidates to fill local investment jobs. “The curriculum and hands-on experience offered in this class will better prepare Wayne State graduates for the job market. And by exposing students to a broader range of investment roles, we are optimistic that we will be able to retain our locally trained talent – who typically head to New York City for their first professional experience – to explore and fill the many rewarding job opportunities that exist within metro Detroit’s public, private business and philanthropic sectors.” 

Students will monitor the portfolio throughout the semester and make buy, sell and hold recommendations to Kresge based on the performance of their selected stocks. Kresge Foundation investment team members will hold two seats on the advisory board for the fund and will also supplement the class curriculum by serving as guest lecturers and sharing personal experiences in the asset management profession. A member of Kresge’s investment team will officially conduct the stock transactions.

“This collaboration with Kresge will allow us to provide our students with an outstanding real-world experience. The challenging curriculum will combine the very best blend of investment and portfolio management theory with the experience of working as a member of an investment team,” said Robert Forsythe, dean of the Mike Ilitch School of Business. “We thank Kresge for supporting our students and helping them gain this valuable experience.”

“WSU has been an enthusiastic partner with Kresge on dozens of efforts in Midtown Detroit and across the city to strengthen our community. Preparing this next generation of students will be essential to ensure that those efforts are sustainable,” said Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson.

To learn about the student-managed investment fund, curriculum and finance lab, please visit