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GradeFund: A Great Idea That I Hate

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Last week, a local news station in Boston mentioned a website called GradeFund. It seems I get at least 10 public relations people e-mail me each day, but I haven't been hit up for GradeFund yet.

What is GradeFund and How Does it Work?

Students ask their family and friends to sponsor them in their quest for great grades. Sponsors can choose to offer various amounts for each grade the student achieves. It's not entirely clear from their about page, but it seems that the lowest you can go is $5 for every A grade. GradeFund collects the money, verifies transcripts (this sounds like a difficult task if grades are done like they were in my elementary school. I see no age or grade level minimum for using the service), and distributes the money. They keep a percentage of the money that is at least 5% ($5 for every $100. If you don't get $100 and you want to clear out your account, you still have to pay a $5 processing fee.)

Why is GradeFund a Great Idea

I think it's a great idea to motivate people towards good grades. Young people need motivation just like everyone else. I know when I was young, a few dollars would have gone a long way towards getting me studying when I may have felt like giving up. Money can serve as a powerful carrot.

Another reason why it might be a good idea... people could use the extra money when in school. Without a job, my wife didn't have a way of supporting herself. Plenty of people get jobs and study at the same time, but it seems like it would be great if they could focus on their studies. This may be a way for that to happen (though, you'd need extremely generous sponsors).

Why do I Hate GradeFund

I guess I don't hate GradeFund, it's more of a dislike. However, a title of "GradeFund?: A Great Idea That I Dislike" seemed poor to me. Here are the three problems I have with GradeFund:

  • Good Grades Should Be Its Own Reward - I was very jealous when my friends got money for good grades. My mother always said "good grades were its own reward." I think I knew at the time that she was right, but I understand it a lot better now.
  • Is GradeFund Panhandling Your Relatives? - I'm sure my mother would say the only thing worse than not believing that good grades were it's own reward, would be me signing up and hitting up grandma for cash. She would consider that obnoxious and I agree. If grandmother wants to give money for good grades, why can't she look at the report card on the refrigerator and give out some cash?
  • Airing Out Your Family's Financial Information - My wife brought this up. She came from a poor, but proud family. In her culture it would be completely unacceptable to put yourself on this service. To her it's tantamount to admitting that you need money. I'm not going to judge a culture for right or wrong, it's not my place, just saying that it exists. This could be a big negative.

In my mind, the negatives outweigh the positives. What's your take? Am I making too much of something that's intended to be a helpful tool?

Posted on January 20, 2009.

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18 Responses to “GradeFund: A Great Idea That I Hate”

  1. kosmo says:

    As someone who grew up without money and with good grades (and, thus, someone who could have benefitted), I think this is an awful idea.

    Not only are you panhandling from your relatives, but you’re paying someone (5%) to do the dirty work for you. If you’re going to beg for the money, at least mke sure you keep 100% of it.

    If Grandma says she’ll give you $10 for each A this semester, I think it’s OK to accept the money at the end of the semester. But actively asking for the money just seems tacky – in much the same way of people asking about their inheritance.

  2. 2Toxic says:

    There are so many grammatical errors in this post, it’s difficult to read. I generally like your post, but I am bothered if your “lazy philosophy” extends to your writing. Isn’t it worthwhile to put out a more polished product, particularly if you are a writer? Good luck.

    Yes, I think the notion of GradeFund is incredibly tacky. Let’s encourage our children to solicit money from all our family members. All hail the next wave in the ME ME ME generation!

  3. I’m in the same boat as kosmo. I had to work during high school and college to afford my car and other expenditures. That being said, it has no relation to my opinion of this system.

    Maybe when a child is in elementary or junior high school rewarding good grades is a good idea, but by the time they reach high school, and especially college there should be no further need for rewards. I agree that receiving a good grade in and of itself should be enough. However, particularly college students, are adults and should be responsible enough to self-motivate themselves. They should already know that without a degree, the prospects for employment are diminished, especially now with fewer jobs being fought over to be filled.

    I don’t think this is a helpful tool at all. It promotes laziness among the young adults who need the complete opposite. They need to learn how to motivate themselves, an more specifically they need to learn that money is not the only motivator out there.

  4. Lazy Man says:

    Thanks 2Toxic, I had a bug with WordPress and it published my first draft instead of my finished copy. I’ve fixed it now (though some grammar errors and typos may still be there. I don’t know too many bloggers with an editor).

  5. Yea, 5% that is ridiculous. Why not just give the kid the cash if he does good. Would parent really sign up for this? If they do they are probably horrible parents. They don’t need a third party to verify the grades, they should be doing that themselves.

    I would have loved this growing up. I don’t think I ever got a C in grade school. Good parenting gets good grades, not monetary incentives. I did good b/c my parents would have been ‘dissapointed’ in me if I didn’t. I was not afraid of getting beaten like most kids. Kids forget a spanking, or at least know it is short term. Having your parents dissapointed in you is really harsh.:)

  6. Jessica says:

    I would hope that most parents would use any money they had to give a child tutoring or study skills training with a tutor as opposed to bribery. As an honors student, I never got money or bribes for good grades, but looking back on it, around report card time or after a big test, we sometimes went out for pizza without my little sisters. There was no implication that this was a bribe I got for my grades such as, “Well keep this up or no more pizza!” but I think they saw that providing special time for just one kid when things were going good was a sneaky encouragement.

    For the record, in sixth grade we had an awesome bus driver who was really cool and interested in our lives. She would give us a candy bar for every A at the end of the term. I don’t think it was a huge inspiration, but shes the only one whose name I remember.

  7. StupidCents says:

    Really? This is real? Wow…

    A student asking for money for good performance really is absurd. To think of the mentality they would have growing up looking for means of motivation from others instead of themselves.

    I can see a point if the student is in high school looking for funds for college, but even at that they have loads of scholarship opportunities and the ability to have a part-time job.

    I have no issues with parents giving $5 for an ‘A’. Imagine the chaos in the classroom when GradeFund turns into a competition.

  8. Start-Up says:

    Neither my sister nor I received compensation for receiving good grades. We both achieved high marks throughout all levels of schooling and our first stabs at a career. My brother struggled finding motivation to do homework and study. My parents offered a monetary reward to my brother for good grades. It worked for awhile, but in the long run it made him weaker. He had trouble finding motivation to achieve without a monetary reward. It wasn’t until he found motivation from within that he was able to really do well not only in school, but at his job.

    “The Millionaire Next Door” has many examples of an interesting parallel. The children of affluent people tend to not be affluent themselves if they are given monetary gifts as adult children, unless it is in the form of supporting education. Very interesting read.

  9. JonnyV says:

    I have no problem rewarding children for grades. But, I do have a problem soliciting family members for money. If the parents choose to reward their children, that is a personal family decision, but having your children beg for money from other family just seems tacky. There is no way I would let my child sign up for something like this.

    My parents had this structure setup:
    $10 for an A
    $5 for a B
    -$5 for a C
    -$10 for a D
    And with an F, everything got wiped out.

  10. kosmo says:

    Jonny … hmm. That structure gives me a new idea. Grandma gives you $5 for an A, but if you get a C, you give HER $5. See, it’s a profit deal! Maybe even give odds, so that if a straight A student flunks a class, Grandma picks up a cool thousand bucks!

    Oh, yeah. It’s probably not nice for Grandma to be rooting against you so that she can make a few bucks :)

  11. Dear Readers,

    My name is Michael Kopko and I am the CEO of the GradeFund. I think you have some interesting points here and I agree with the concerns outlined in this post and subsequent comments (particularly about creating a nation of beggers or laggards).

    We are working hard to figure out how we can build a tool that will accomplish the following:

    1) Provide incentives for students to engage in rigorous scholarship. Turn them on to the power and rewards of a well developed mind.
    2) Involve the community in the rearing of the next generation’s thought leaders.
    3) Build a tool that helps identify the world’s academic talent.
    4) Create an online environment that competes for student attention in a world that is not sufficiently focused on academics.

    Though we are far from perfect or finished I am confident that if you met our group and joined our discussions you would understand that there is a very noble aim behind this company. If you would like participate in one of our discussions and have your concerns heard please email me at [email protected]

    All my best,

    Michael Kopko
    Chief Executive Officer

  12. While I applaud Mr. Kopko’s desire to promote scholastic achievement, I feel that the emphasis is being placed on the wrong input. Rather than getting students to ask to be rewarded to academic achievement, perhaps the goal of the “tool” should be aimed toward getting children more interested in learning and helping the educational systems accomplish that goal. All of this really begins at home, but since no one can control what goes on there, the next best thing would be to get to the nation’s children in the place they most frequently spend their time: in school. Perhaps by collecting donations that are earmarked to go toward supplying less-fortunate school districts with the funds necessary to purchase supplies and learning tools, that would help get more of the youth interested in achieving higher academic marks on their own. Plus, getting them interested earlier on will make them more likely to continue the practice of maintaining good grades as they move along in the educational system.

  13. Craig says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with rewarding a kid for grades. I received rewards based on good grades, keep you motivated and a good way to give incentive to kids, and teach them about life. Nothing wrong with that at all. I don’t really like this idea though. Think it’s too technical and really asking way too much out of family and friends. Don’t think rewards need to go to this amount of extremes.

  14. I’m with your wife. How would you even go about asking your relatives to sign up for this? Even if your kid was the only one of his or her generation, it would be tacky. As one of probably a bunch of kids in any given family, super tacky. I think parents have a right to decide if they want to pay their kids for grades but to ask other people to join in…unbelievable!

  15. ike says:

    if you have to pay for a service this basic what happens when the kid has deeper problems you have to deal with-who ya gonna ask?Better tackle these personally allowance style and sharpen up for the deep strategy ones.

  16. Bryce says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with paying for good grades. Going to school is a child’s job why shouldn’t there be a monetary benefit? “Good grades are reward enough”? Creating value for your employer should also be reward enough. Money for good grades was the only way we got any money. There was no allowance or getting payed to do chores around the house. We had to well at our job to get payed.

  17. Sandra says:

    I think it’s a horrible idea! I would NEVER allow my daughter to participate in GradeFund. I’m outraged really. I saw GradeFund advertised on the news. I immediately jumped online to look it up. I started to get the feeling that I was the only one who was against the whole idea. It felt good to finally find other people who felt the same way. Its good to know that there are still intelligent people in the world.

  18. Jessica says:

    I DISAGREE, I think it is a Good idea. I myself was looking for a way to save for a Niece. For her education. If it helps promote good grade while she’s in high school…I think its great.

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