The Drip Portfolio is ceasing operations.

This announcement will likely make you feel as if you're reading yesterday's news. Or Tuesday's news, when the Fool announced the closure of its three real-money portfolios -- Rule Breaker, Rule Maker, and the Drip -- as its content offerings evolve.

This is bittersweet news. It's unfortunate to see the portfolios go; they've been an integral part of the Fool since 1994. However, there's also good news. I believe the direction Fool content is headed will be an improvement over current content. Additionally, we won't stop writing about dividend reinvestment plans (DRPs) and low-cost investing.

You may have read Tom and David Gardner's letter explaning the upcoming changes, and Tuesday's Rule Breaker column where we expounded on the topic. If not, please read those columns to get the full story.

The summarized scoop is this: The Fool is moving toward a format that allows its writers greater flexibility. Alongside our coverage of market news every day, we'll run several investing columns per week. These columns can be on Drip investing, Rule Breakers, Rule Makers, small caps, value stocks, new investing strategies, shorting stocks, or, essentially, any topic a columnist wishes.

The main point is, Fool writers won't be corralled into writing about a set topic each week, the way they had been with the portfolios. Instead, they will be free to write about whatever seems most timely and relevant, regardless of the investment strategy.

Aside from letting our columnists loose in order to provide more comprehensive and timely investing content, we're making this change partly because we now have other content that offers new stock ideas every month.

For example, Tom and David's Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter has taken much of the brothers' time and effort since launching one year ago. Both provide one new investment idea per month, and both baskets of stocks are topping the S&P 500 since inception. However, neither the Rule Breaker nor Rule Maker online portfolios is an accurate reflection of Tom and David's most recent stock choices as presented in Stock Advisor. We don't want this divergence to continue.

So, for that and other reasons, the real-money aspect of our investing strategies is going away, but the strategies will remain. We'll keep writing about Drip investing and I'll continue to favor covering the companies owned in this portfolio. We'll still trumpet the value of low-cost investing. But starting March 3, you'll see other Fool content changes, and we hope you'll notice the improvement.

Thank you
I'll return to discuss our five companies next week, addressing where we stand and what might become of our investments. Today, though, I want to thank the many participants in the Drip Port -- starting with you, the readers.

Some of you have been reading this column since its 1997 beginning. Your contributions on the Drip discussion boards (which will remain open) helped make the portfolio what it is -- and certainly made managing it worthwhile for me. I know we've helped thousands of readers learn about dividend reinvestment plans, and thousands have started to invest with our help. That's something we can always be proud of.

Going back to the beginning, there's Randy Befumo to thank. Randy and I teamed up to launch this portfolio in 1997. His ideas were instrumental in getting us rolling in the right direction.

Thanks to Vince Hanks (formerly TMF Elwood) for his column contributions spanning more than two years -- all of them written with humor and clarity. George Runkle (formerly TMF Runkle) also contributed excellent columns for more than two years. Without the help of these two, we wouldn't have made it this far. George, a reservist, was recently called to Uzbekistan, where he sits in a tent as we speak. We wish him a quick trip home.

I also thank George Smyth (GLSmyth), a longtime Fool discussion board contributor, who penned an educational weekly column for a year. George alone has helped hundreds of investors, if not more, on the Drip boards.

Thanks also go out to Rex Moore (TMF Orangeblood) and Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible) for their skillful writing of many Drip columns in the second-half of 2002. And to everyone else who has played a role in this column and the portfolio, thank you.

How we've done
We launched with a goal to grow into a $150,000 portfolio after starting with $500 and adding $100 per month over 20 years, to the year 2017. We would need a compound annual growth rate of 15.5% to achieve this goal -- no small feat, especially when buying large companies.

Since our 1997 launch, the S&P 500 has lost about 12%. Our portfolio is best measured using an internal rate of return (IRR) because we add money every month. With that method, the Drip Port has gained about 1.1%. That's a far cry from our long-term goal, but it's beating the market by a good amount.

Would we have made our 2017 goal? I have doubts. A 15.5% annualized growth over 20 years is an aggressive target (we wanted to be aggressive), so, as we've admitted, we would have been happy to even come close to 12%.

The more important goal was that of example. We wanted to show how investors can begin to invest with very little money and buy great companies at very little cost. I think we have shown this -- and we'll continue to teach this investing strategy on the Fool.

Next week, we'll review our holdings and wrap things up. The week after, a new content format launches on the Fool. Thank you, as always, for your interest and, just as importantly, for your participation.

Jeff Fischer owns the stocks in the Drip Port. The Fool has a disclosure policy.