A unique project by the students of Vilnius Jesuit Gymnasium 

It all sounds like a debate between the serious financial experts: the founding of the Endowment Fund, the establishment of the Board, the considerations about the investments. The only and the most important characteristic is that the Fund is run by the school students Justinas Balbieris and Radvilas Pelanis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the students of the Vilnius Jesuit Gymnasium (VJG) got the idea to set up the Fund to raise the capital for the scholarships for students, for investments in teacher training and attracting new teachers, promotion financial education of the students and support the application of modern technologies. With the consultations of experts in finance, marketing and other fields, Justinas and Radvilas managed to convince the gymnasium director and the community of the credibility of their idea. 

The Endowment Fund of the Vilnius Jesuit Gymnasium is the first of its kind in Europe. Justinas and Radvilas finally proved that it was not a game, started serious consultations with financial experts and put into practice the Jesuit educational principle "Think Globally, Act Locally". The aim of the Fund is to strengthen the community of the Vilnius Jesuit Gymnasium and to promote innovation.  

Justinas and Radvilas present the idea and objectives of the VJG Fund.  

What is an untouchable capital fund? What are the risks and benefits? 

The principle of the Vilnius Jesuit Gymnasium Endowment Fund is simple: we invest the untouchable capital that we bring in, and the profits are used to support projects related to education and innovation. The donated money is never spent, but effectively "employed", generating a stable long-term return for the Gymnasium. 

As with all investments that create an opportunity to make money, there is a risk of losing it. That's why our Board of Directors is made up of five investment professionals who ensure that all potential risks are minimised, and returns are maximised. 

How did you come up with the idea of establishing an untouchable capital fund? 

In the second semester of eleventh grade, we realised that our time at the Jesuit Gymnasium was coming to an end. We discussed how much the Gymnasium had influenced our lives and decided that we wanted to go out “with a bang”. We invested our own money, so we quickly came up with the idea of an untouchable capital fund - you could say we were lucky. 

Where did you get your knowledge on how to manage finances? 

Unfortunately, nobody teaches you how to set up an untouchable capital fund at school, so we had to find people who could help us. One of the first people to help us was Director of the Vilnius University Fund, who agreed to advise us on the most important aspects of setting up and running a fund of this type. Other marketing, accounting, finance and law specialists were also very helpful in getting the Fund off the ground and in defining our investment strategy and preparing all the necessary documents. 

Did you need to persuade the director of the gymnasium to support this idea?  

The director was the first person to whom we presented the idea of the Fund. The conversation lasted about an hour, so we got her permission to go ahead with our idea. She saw our enthusiasm and allowed us to "play in the sandbox" - it is only because of her belief in us that today Vilnius Jesuit Gymnasium can be proud to have the first Gymnasium Untouchable Capital Fund in Europe. 

Do you intend to pursue a finance-related career in the future? 

After graduation, we both plan to study finance and make our lives about building businesses and developing new ideas - something that is impossible nowadays without a proper financial education. 

What are the next steps after the launch of the fund? 

Setting up the Fund is only the first step. Most untouchable capital funds make their first donation only a few years after they are set up. We aim to be able to help our own Gymnasium community in the first year of the fund's operation, only then its full potential will be realised. 

How have parents or alumni reacted to the idea of the Foundation?  

Parents, alumni and the whole community have always been very supportive - we are grateful for their financial support, their time in advising us, and their encouraging comments after the presentations. The strength of our community is what makes our Gymnasium unique, and it is only in such a curious and innovative environment that our idea could grow. 

Jesuits ECE