Earn green for grades 

Students can earn up to $4,000 each for achieving academic benchmarks.

September 12, 2008

CPS students can now earn a few bucks for making good grades.


Thanks to a new financial incentive program more than 5,000 ninth-grade students from select high schools will have the opportunity to earn up to $2,000 in their first year of high school—simply for earning good grades.


The Paper Project, created by the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University (EdLabs), aims to develop student interest in school and a commitment to reaching academic goals during the first two years of high school, when students are most at risk for dropping out.


Here's how the program works:


Eligible students enrolled in the program can earn financial rewards for performance in five core classes: math, English, social science, science, and physical education. Students can earn $50 for each "A", $35 for a "B," and $20 for any "C" earned during each five-week progress period. A "straight-A" student has the potential to earn up to $4,000 over two years.


If a student fails a class, he/she will lose all money earned for that grading period. However, the student can eventually receive his/her earnings for that period if he/she completes the necessary make-up work to earn credit for the class (such as summer school).


Students will receive half of their earnings every five weeks during their freshman and sophomore years, and receive the balance of their earnings upon graduation from high school. Students will be encouraged to open savings accounts at a bank in which their earnings will be directly deposited. Students must have parental consent to participate.


In the third and fourth year of the program, when financial incentives are no longer available, students will receive college and career support to help them connect academic performance to their goals. And while students will no longer earn money for good grades, they may earn financial rewards for SAT/ACT test preparation and performance.


Twenty CPS high schools were chosen from 65 that applied through a random lottery. Eligibility for the lottery was based on the school's need to improve freshman failure rates. Participating schools are Al Raby, Best Practice, Bowen Environmental Studies, Bowen Global Visions, Chicago Discovery Academy, Chicago Military, School of Entrepreneurship, Douglas, School of Leadership, Hirsch, Hope, Hubbard, Kennedy, Kelvyn Park, Manley, Phoenix Military, Richards, Uplift Community High School, Senn, and Simeon.


All student financial incentives will be donated by outside partners. No taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the program. EdLabs will provide an initial investment of $2 million over two years to launch the project, and other partners will be sought.


The Paper Project will be administered by High School Programs in partnership with EdLabs and the Children First Fund, the philanthropic arm of Chicago Public Schools.


For more information contact High School Programs.