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EdCreds: A New Currency for College

Students of all ages build financial credits for the cost of tuition by participating in qualified educational extracurricular activities

Photo of Shari Cheves
25 15

Written by

Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

The target audience includes all students, educators, lenders, and champions of education. EdCreds are earned by active learners of any age and redeemed for cash or tuition credit after college enrollment. Students increase ownership and likelihood of graduation after using EdCred tracking and career guidance. Parents encourage extracurricular educational activities and are informed of college savings plans. Colleges benefit from matched EdCreds students, and donors benefit from partnerships.

Problem

College tuition is unaffordable for most families and student loans have accumulated into a wall of insurmountable debt. Trends show that students are increasing their share of the burden, but the problem extends beyond the bank. As former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan remarked, "The degree students truly can’t afford is the one they don’t complete, or that employers don’t value." Any approach to college affordability must consider student preparedness and commitment to their selected program.

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Remedy

With EdCreds, people of all ages earn credits toward the cost of their tuition by participating in a wide variety of qualified, extracurricular activities that emphasize learning and teaching. These are financial credits, not academic credits. EdCreds can be earned at a wide variety of accessible activities including museums, national parks, after-school enrichment programs, and educational summer camps. EdCreds activities are tracked through childhood and help students select the most appropriate college programs for their needs and interests. EdCreds are redeemed for cash after a student enrolls in any type of accredited college. Funding for EdCreds includes charitable donations, corporate sponsorship, and sales of EdCreds Big Data. During and after college, individuals receive EdCreds for mentoring or instruction without pay or academic credit. EdCreds continue to help graduates pay off student loans, explore professional development, and engage in lifelong learning.

EdCreds are unique to each person and non-transferable, never borrowed, bought, or sold!

Visit the new EdCreds.org website and take a quick survey!

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Read a personal appeal here

Who Benefits?

Students: Over an entire childhood, students earn EdCreds and invest in themselves through educational activities outside of the classroom. As they enter college, students with EdCreds are more aware of the financial impact, feel greater ownership of their experience, and are more likely to complete their degree. During and after graduation, EdCreds can be earned through qualified mentoring and volunteer work to help pay down student loans or engage in continuing education through participating programs. 

Parents: With direct financial incentives, EdCreds remind parents to save for college throughout childhood. EdCreds also help parents select valuable experiences for their child based on their history of EdCred activities. During high school, parents use EdCreds.org to review their child's EdCreds activities and guide them into colleges and programs that best fit their interests and experience. Both parents and students share the relief of savings in tuition.

EdCred providers: After application, review, and approval, education-oriented organizations qualify as official EdCred providers. These organizations offer EdCreds to participants and enjoy the marketing benefits. An "EdCreds Approved" badge assures customers that the provider's activities are an investment in education in multiple ways. This incentive program also boosts visitor-serving programs like museums and national parks who face declining attendance. 

Colleges: When students submit their EdCreds activity during application, college admissions can measure the "educational motivation" of applicants and predict success in desired programs. Colleges can also purchase EdCred data to better target prospective students, potentially saving over $2K per student in recruiting for private colleges and over $450 per student in recruiting for public 4-year colleges. With EdCreds.org college and career guidance, colleges are more likely to receive students that are better suited for their programs, reducing dropout rates and raising academic performance.

EdCreds-aware colleges will also attract more charitable donations and endowments through "EdCredibility." As the EdCreds program evolves, certain colleges and organizations can bestow EdCreds on high-demand instructors, student interns, or mentors. These EdCreds can be used to pay for continuing education or enrichment courses, conferences, or student loans. 

EdCred-friendly loan providers: Considering that 17% of student loan borrowers are currently severely delinquent (WSJ, 2015), lenders may benefit from redeeming or considering EdCreds as much as colleges. EdCreds might reduce rates and principal on student loans. By applying creative strategies with EdCreds, public and private lenders can prevent default and improve our economic outlook.

Funding for EdCreds

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Imagine a Sample Case 

When Charlie enters kindergarten, his parents join the EdCreds program offered to every new student. Throughout elementary school, Charlie gathers hundreds of EdCreds through after-school enrichment classes and school-sponsored field trips where he learns about music, endangered animals, art, and American history. During summers, more EdCreds are accumulated as Charlie visits museums and local libraries that feature interactive exhibits, storytime events, and pen pal book clubs. By middle school, Charlie signs up for art classes at the community center, earning over a hundred EdCreds each year. In the summer, Charlie scores another hundred EdCreds at the nearby metropolitan aquarium where he attends an ocean camp focusing on global warming and climate change. Over the years, Charlie's parents use EdCreds.org to find local low-cost activities, and they are periodically reminded about financial milestones for college savings. The EdCreds website helps provide some guidance for selecting a number of options.

Through high school, Charlie collects hundreds of additional EdCreds by participating in the science fair, joining the tech challenge, and tutoring middle school students in math. When Charlie is a junior, he uses EdCreds.org to take an online career guidance course that helps him identify possible directions for college. This course analyzes Charlie's history of EdCreds activities and suggests that his math and science skills might be suitable for a degree in bioengineering. When Charlie is a senior, he finds colleges that offer engineering degrees and match his academic performance. Charlie reviews the potential colleges with his parents, considering his current EdCreds earnings. Charlie's parents had saved quite a bit for college, but Charlie needs a small loan and redeems his 2500 EdCreds to reduce the impact.

During college, Charlie interns at the college research center and earns more EdCreds. He attends professional conferences where he gathers a few hundred EdCreds by attending lectures and presenting his work. He redeems these EdCreds to help pay down student debt.

After receiving his degree and starting his career, Charlie is reminded that he can keep earning EdCreds through approved volunteer teaching activity. He helps out at the local middle school by coaching a robotics team and judging science fair competitions. Charlie earns more EdCreds and redeems them to pay for professional development courses and the remainder of his student loans. Within just a few years, Charlie is thinking about financial stability and future opportunities in life.

A New World of Opportunities

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EdCreds for self-assessment - As EdCreds activities are tracked over years or decades, the EdCreds.org website can help students select activities as well as colleges that best fit their interests and experiences. A wide variety of online tools will assess personality and career aptitude at different checkpoints. Other tools will help integrate analysis with comparisons of college programs, tuition, and education value. These tools are essential at a time when a large portion of states do not mandate high school counselors. In fact, California ranks worst in the nation for high school guidance counselors. 

EdCreds for self-promotion - People can publicize their own EdCreds to tout their educational motivation to colleges and potential employers. Insurance companies may eventually want to evaluate EdCreds to provide discounts on rates. Certain scholarships may also be designed to consider EdCreds. 

EdCreds for college promotion - Colleges can benefit from EdCreds students who are personally invested in their program based on the EdCreds earning and guidance process. If colleges consider EdCreds during the application process, they increase demand for this type of extracurricular education-oriented student. Ultimately, EdCred-friendly institutions are more likely to attract donors and who support the larger goal of lifelong learning. 

EdCreds for educational activity promotion - It will be easier to attract a child or parent to a library, science center, nature program, or museum if EdCreds are attached to these interactive activities. Visitor-serving organizations will benefit from this additional marketing power in the face of declining attendance. 

Tools for validating education value of activities - EdCred providers must be approved to offer EdCreds based on the education value of their activities. While schools, camps, museums, and other organizations may create their own process for earning EdCreds, some will benefit from online tools to confirm that a child or adult met the expected educational goals. The EdCreds nonprofit organization can provide samples, templates, and tools to help make this process easier for educational recreational programs and centers.

Online coursework - New research indicates that over 7 million people are taking online classes (Chronicle of Higher Ed, 2014). EdCreds might be used to help pay for online language learning, music lessons, test prep, and other enrichment courses. Qualifying online academies that do not provide academic credits or professional certification may also offer EdCreds to encourage the lifelong learning process.

Professional EdCreds - Professional EdCreds is a concept that allows participating schools to bestow EdCreds on certain high-demand instructors. These EdCreds can be used for courses in continuing education, professional development, or loan payments. 

Survey Results - full page results here and attached

FAQ

What is the defined value of an EdCred? EdCreds are proposed to be based on time so that one hour of extracurricular education time earns one EdCred. While this earn rate might be negotiable based on category of approved activity, maintaining a simple 1 hour:1 EdCred ratio can prevent friction among providers. If colleges become redemption centers, there may be very different redemption rates among campuses. If the EdCreds Foundation implements a cashback plan for redemption, a single redemption rate will fluctuate with available funds each year.

How will colleges or the EdCreds foundation cover the cost of EdCreds? Depending on the center of redemption, the cost of EdCreds will be covered by funds raised by the EdCreds Foundation, college tuition increases or donations, and/or lenders that benefit from the partnership with motivated learners. The options for funding are listed above and may be combined for greater opportunities. Caps on total and individual EdCred accumulation (by age, per week or month, type of activity, etc.) lessen the impact and allow for realistic adoption.

What are the goals of the EdCreds nonprofit organization? The EdCreds 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization will focus on a variety of ways to promote lifelong learning. While growing a strong network of participating providers (educational extracurricular programs), EdCreds.org will help parents identify and plan events and activities. EdCreds.org will help connect families with these activities considering budget, time, and interests. EdCreds tracking will store a child's activities and personal ratings for future career and college analysis. Tips on saving for college and encouraging intellectual exploration will be periodically shared. Through high school, EdCreds.org will offer career guidance and help with the college selection process, including tools that compare college value and analysis of a child's EdCred-earning history. A child will grow to lead the EdCreds experience and face college with a sense of ownership and investment. During and after college, EdCreds continue to offer rewards to students and graduates who explore teaching and learning.

How does this concept support low-income students and families? EdCreds promote all types of extracurricular learning activities, including free and low-cost programs. EdCreds.org will provide perks to EdCred Providers who offer support services such as free transportation, income-based scholarships, sliding scale fees, etc. This approach avoids stigmatization while boosting highly accessible programs already in place such as these:


  • Conscientious museums  - Bank of America® offers free admission to 150 museums, science centers, gardens and other sites by using a Bank of America® or Merrill Lynch® card and photo ID. Cool Culture helps over 50,000 families access cultural institutions in New York City. Some museums like Stepping StonesHagley Museum, and DuPage offer their own financial assistance programs while dozens of other museums partner with the Museums for All program to remove financial barriers. Organizations like DonorsChoose.org make it possible for teachers to get funding for inspiring field trips to these sites.


  • Affordable youth organizations - Scouts often get free admission or discounts to educational events and attractions that help make up the costs of membership. The EdCreds.org website will help parents select EdCred earning activities based on location, cost, and theme.



  • Affordable after school education - While many schools offer their own enrichment programs, The Boys & Girls Club provides low cost options and educational enhancements, and the 4-H after school programs and mentoring services are free. Music lessons are available to students in need through the MusicLink Foundation.


  • Religious education - As with other subjects, the study of religion outside of the classroom would earn EdCreds within approved programs that are available for free or minimal cost.


  • Mentoring programs - Youth to Youth programs are youth-driven, adult-guided mentoring programs that set at-risk teens on the right path toward college. EdCred incentives can help attract mentors in high-demand programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters or MENTOR. Young college mentors in programs like CARA deserve EdCreds for guiding high schoolers toward college when they are at most risk of abandoning plans.


EdCreds promotes and adds value to extracurricular activities that celebrate learning and prepare students for higher education. Unlike current scholarships and discounts that focus on achievement or low income, EdCreds fill the gap by rewarding participation. The EdCreds extracurricular approach also complements the government's new GEAR UP program that is limited to support within schools. EdCreds increase early awareness and personal investment that often prevent low-income students from completing degrees. EdCreds establish an ongoing dialogue with families that includes important information on early financial aid, college savings options, and college guidance.

Wireframe Prototype attached

Impact

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

EdCreds can be tested in populated areas that include diverse educational activities for all ages. With the simple cashback program, EdCreds might effectively start with several school districts and their surrounding extracurricular youth programs. Early inclusion of high schoolers would help accelerate evaluation of EdCreds earning, tracking, college guidance, and college recruitment. Partnering with nearby colleges could help determine long-term success in matching students.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

OpenIDEO can help brainstorm potential EdCred-earning activities, identify test communities, outline creative employment incentives for businesses, and visualize additional ways that EdCreds tracking can help at all ages. Software and game design might help make the EdCred investment process more fun and educational - how can we make EdCreds a great online experience as much as a great offline one?

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

  • No

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. Does this idea make college more accessible, especially for low income students in the U.S.?

Yes! - 41.7%

To a degree - 33.3%

Not that I can tell - 25%

2. Does this idea think beyond current cost structures of college and activate new sectors or partners?

Yes! - 58.3%

It's attempting to - 25%

Not that I can tell - 16.7%

3. How excited are you about this idea?

I'm so excited I just can't hide it! - 25%

I'm pretty neutral in my excitement level - 50%

I don't feel very excited about this idea. - 25%

25 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Carolina Mndz
Team

Shari,

This is a great idea! I am just finishing up my MBA. I hope something like this is implemented 10 years from now for future generations. Getting and Paying back loans adds so much stress to students and families.

Best of luck

Photo of Paschal Maduhu
Team

Brilliant Idea Shari, Will be more than happy to assist you making this a reality.

Photo of Ralf Lippold
Team

Excellent idea - at a workshop yesterday on "Future City Dresden" (#DDzu2030) there was a similar proposal pointing to raise citizen engagement through giving back in "special currency points" on specific activities, or support that brings the city further to a overall well-being of its citizens. 
It could be in the form of free visits to museums, swimming pool entries, or other financial benefits through offering city services for free.

My question is: how has been the financial necessity solved to implement the solution? Who is given money, and how has been the process (e.g. crowdfunding, a foundation)?

Photo of Shari Cheves
Team

Thank you for your inquiry. Dresden with its growth and size is a perfect testbed for community currency. There are some systems already in place in the US, though very new and unproven:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_community_currencies_in_the_United_States
Community currency has great potential to counteract problems with health, education, and environment.
 
EdCreds is a very new idea (December 2015) and is still preparing to seek funding. After initial investment, the plan is to fund EdCreds by selling Big Data – information about participating students including extracurricular activities, career/college testing, and personal interests. Colleges need this information to refine their marketing efforts during the recruitment process every year. We will need initial funding while expanding, but it won't be necessary as the database of student information grows and becomes more valuable.

We are also introducing EdCreds as a cashback program, rather than redeeming for special activities as you mention. We are using this simple cash incentive to increase early and widespread adoption. This appeals to our huge problem of college affordability. Cash can only be received for EdCreds after attending college, emphasizing a reward for education. EdCreds.org will also provide online career and college guidance that is missing here in the US. This guidance is actually the engagement we seek below the surface of EdCreds.

Similarly, your goal in Dresden may be to increase awareness of community activities that promote well-being. So, your program might evolve around a website where citizens can plan or schedule events, find activities that suit them, and manage their special currency at the same time. It may be difficult to get local businesses to accept special points, which is another reason why we are using a simple cashback model for EdCreds. We could not find colleges interested in discussing alternative forms of tuition payment. The US also has many free or low-cost activities that are declining in participation. Pay special attention in Dresden, as some activities may not respond to cost adjustment alone. Keep me posted on the progress.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on your winning idea Shari! We love how you've fleshed out the potential for this idea to help students afford college since the beginning of the Refinement Phase. What an amazing journey it has been. We've also been inspired by how you've engaged with the community in a human-centered way as you iterated on this idea. Looking ahead to the next step, we would love for you to share your story in the upcoming Higher Ed Impact Phase. The Impact Phase is a space where the OpenIDEO community can share updates on how our projects are progressing beyond the challenge. For reference, here's a template for writing an Impact phase story: http://ideo.pn/1U9DrSN Well done!

Photo of Karen Sorensen
Team

Congrats on making it to Impact!

Photo of Jessie zarazaga
Team

Hi
I was thinking it might be interesting for you to look at Tirelo Sechaba as a model. This is a youth community study-service program which was started in Botswana in the late 80's or early 90's.  It requires young people who want a government scholarship (in order to study either locally or abroad) to first complete a year of rural community service, partly in order to take a role in giving back, before being sponsored, and partly in order to better understand the country they will eventually be helping to construct.  The service, at least originally, was rural, to try to avoid the African disconnect between rural poverty and the new urban society.  It is connected with job development skills and mentoring, in some ways.  There has been a lot written on it, over the years, both the positive and the problems. 

Photo of Kaye Han
Team

Awesome work, Shari! I've been following along for awhile but just thought I'd drop a line of encouragement. Great stuff, especially enjoyed the user journey illustrations. 

Only area which I would love to see more development is the business model. Managing so many moving parts (over many years) is likely to be expensive as it is a lot of human hours.  Although I see that donors are the ones offsetting the costs for students (and here I believe would need some validation), I'm not entirely clear on how the business itself works. Unless this is a charity that operates purely on donations? 

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great feedback Rob! Shari, it'd be helpful to consider who will eventually pay for the tuition reductions. Philanthropy is one option. What other sources of revenue might there be if charitable donations might not be reliable on a year to year basis? It'd be interesting to explore corporate sponsorship opportunities and other business models:)

Photo of Shari Cheves
Team

Thanks Shane and Rob! The EdCreds 501c3 would be a nonprofit organization managing the growth and development of the EdCreds concept. As outlined in the three compensation options under Who Pays?, we can pursue tuition, donors, or lender options or a combination of all. Redemption rates for EdCreds can flex based on number of applicants using EdCreds, available corporate funding, or ability of colleges to adjust tuition to compensate. As mentioned, even if we use tuition adjustment alone (without donors), the effect will be negligible when spread over thousands of students, rewarding the EdCreds participants with no loss to the colleges. Corporate funding would be ideal for visibility and momentum, but its absence is not a deal-breaker. But corporate funding would certainly help persuade colleges to get on board.

We all face huge obstacles in college compliance with any idea. With EdCreds, we can leverage the interests of other big players (EdCred Providers such as Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, FIRST LEGO league, American Alliance of Museums, American Library Association, etc.) to attract colleges. Outside donors who support EdCred Providers will also be more likely to favor colleges within the EdCreds network. Let me know if you have other thoughts!

Photo of Kaye Han
Team

Speaking specifically about option 1 of colleges adjusting tuition fees of regular students to offset the cost for other students: what are the incentives for the universities to do this? Scholarships are specifically granted because they want high academic achievers to bolster their schools's reputation and performance metrics. For EdCreds, what would be the incentive to charge higher prices for their regular students to admit a student with EdCreds? 

The other cost I was referring to is the organization itself. To coordinate, manage, and run EdCreds over many years will certainly equate to millions of dollars as salaries of even just two full-time staff over 10 years will likely hit that. In that cost structure, would this be based on donations? 

Food for thought - I love this idea. Just trying to find ways to make this a stable and sustainable business that isn't overly reliant on donations as it is difficult to effectively run that over decades (which EdCreds is likely aiming to do). 

Photo of Shari Cheves
Team

Thanks Rob! Good questions. Colleges will want to accept EdCreds to attract students who have a track record of participating in EdCred activities (showing motivation to learn, even outside of the classroom). Additional key benefits include: 1) Attracting donors who support the larger EdCreds cause, 2) Potential access to the history of prospective student EdCred activities so that colleges can make their recruiting efforts more efficient, and 3) The prospect of granting EdCreds or even PostEdCreds to their own students who offer mentoring, teaching assistance, and research (not-for-credit). These are extremely valuable benefits that are worth far more than what EdCreds will cost anyone in actual dollars. 

Nonprofits always require a ton of elbow grease and funding, though it can be from government sources. The EdCreds business model requires more feasibility discussions with forward-thinking college administrators and other participants before we can lean on any of the options. 

Photo of Justin Bean
Team

Awesome updates, Shari! You're really making some great progress and fleshing out the details to take the idea from good to great! :) 

A couple of thoughts I had after re-reading were around implementation. Because federal and state programs can take a while to get implemented, what are some low-hanging fruit or early phases that can help EdCreds start building momentum? What would be the sequence of rolling out these low-barrier programs, leading up to full reimbursement by federal/state governments or collegiate systems? Since the end goal is to make college more affordable, the money/value could come from a variety of sources. Some ideas I had were:

- A social media campaign/feed. Perhaps all tweets or Instagram photos with the hashtag #EdCreds could be pulled into a feed that raises awareness for pre-higher ed activities. Users would then have a record of their activities that they could share, and get ideas from other users. It could also create local communities of students who could do activities together, and help to give kids the opportunity to interact/make friends with kids from other neighborhoods or socioeconomic groups. 

- Corporate sponsorships. How could companies help students pay for college? Perhaps they could donate or offer discounts/rebates for EdCred users in proportion to the number of credits attained. It seems that companies would have a marketing/PR incentive to spend budget on the communities they reach via EdCreds - it's such a great story for them to tell and participate in (perhaps even their employees could get involved in volunteering to help). This might also help to establish the value of EdCerds with companies competing to offer the best deals to EdCred users in a virtuous spiral :)

- Remember the "Box Tops for Education" campaigns back in the day? What if there were something similar with EdCreds? Instead of buying cereal, students would be participating in meaningful/educational activities to get donations to a fund for tuition reimbursement or scholarships that they could cash out once they attended college. 

Good luck on the final stretch!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Nice insights Justin! +1 to the notion of corporate sponsorships. Perhaps there might be mutually beneficial partnership opportunities between participating universities and companies. Hope you guys have more opportunities to collaborate before the end of Refinements!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Exciting to see these updates Shari! It's great to see how you've developed the strategy of EdCreds. We're also glad to see that you've created an EdCreds site to collect feedback. Have you also collected feedback from local colleges on this idea? What might their reactions to accepting EdCreds as a form of tuition credit? You've started to address the viability of this business solution in the FAQ section. What might be ways to test out some of these assumptions with potential partners? Looking forward to seeing next steps!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

We’re thrilled to have you in our Refinement phase, Shari! We like that this idea puts a monetary incentive on activities that typically seem inaccessible to lower income students. Money can be a really influential motivator, especially for academic activities. Your idea shows creativity, is already generating a lot of enthusiasm within our team, the OpenIDEO community, and our community prototyper Justin Bean 

In the Refinement phase, we’d love for you to continue developing the viability, desirability and feasibility of your idea. The following are some feedback and provocations to consider. You mention examples of Junior Ranger Programs and science summer camps as ways to earn Ed Creds. How might your idea tie in access to these opportunities for low income students? We want to be sure we don’t create a system in which middle and high income families are the primary earners of Ed Creds. As you work on your prototype – which we can’t wait to see – keep that perspective in mind. How do your end users react to the concept? What latent desires should be kept in mind when designing for low income students? Does it provide motivation for attending college through making it more affordable?

Here are some key questions and milestones we encourage from all ideas in the Refinement:
1. How might this idea address the unique needs of low-income families and first generation college students?
2. Clearly summarize the value proposition of your idea in 1-2 sentences
3. Identify assumptions that need to be answered in order to validate your value proposition.
4. Collect feedback from potential partners and users to answer the assumptions you’ve identified.
5. Communicate your idea in a visual way with user experience maps http://ideo.pn/UX_Map Or you can use the Mural Prototyping Template provided to you. 

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 12/22" to your idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

We’re excited to see this idea progress in the next weeks!

Photo of Rocky Morada
Team

Shari's EdCreds idea is brilliant and it reminds me of similar concepts being used in HSA (Health Savings Accounts) and frequent flier programs. As with points-based initiatives, the reality of having to build and manage a platform and database can be very daunting. With proper funding and execution, I imagine a website or app where users can keep track of their EdCreds, connect with other EdCreds users, get community EdCreds alerts, challenge their peers, RSVP to EdCreds events, etc. The possibilities are really endless. And before I get too excited, the other obstacle I foresee would be around getting universities to accept EdCreds and participate in it year after year. We hear a lot about educational budget cuts nowadays and for universities to participate in this program by accepting EdCreds in exchange for scholarships or tuition discounts, it may be too much to ask. We therefore have to find a way for EdCreds to become a win-win situation for students as well as educational institutions. For now, I'm not sure how to approach this particular obstacle. Now that I have that off my chest, allow me to rattle off some ideas for EdCreds...


- What if we take the EdCreds concept and apply it within the university merit scholarship system? Beyond the work hours allotted for the federal work-study program, scholars can look up other university sanctioned work/volunteer/event opportunities that will allow them to earn EdCreds. Credits earned by the scholars can then be used for discounts on books and dormitories, food subsidies, etc.


- Professors can also join the EdCreds program as a volunteer. They can "donate" by teaching 1 class per semester pro bono and the university then deposits a certain amount of EdCreds per course unit. The volunteering Professor can build up his/her pool of EdCreds and choose a scholar that he/she would like to sponsor by transferring EdCreds from the pool to his/her chosen scholar's EdCred account. This idea can be expanded by having university departments pool together their credits.


- What if regular students can also participate in EdCred sharing? Students can sign up for work to earn EdCreds and donate the points to their scholar peers. This would be a wonderful opportunity for students to build meaningful connections in the university.


- What if companies can be convinced to require students to earn X number of EdCreds to be considered for internship opportunities?


There are a couple more ideas on my notepad but I think this short list suffices for now.


Shari, if you read this, it would be wonderful to get your feedback. Maybe you can also share with us ideas/comments that you've received from people that you've socialized the EdCreds idea with. Thanks!

Photo of Shari Cheves
Team

Great thorough thinking, ideas, and questions! Yes, like many other ideas, the biggest challenge is creating appeal for college participation. Before diving into that, let’s go over some of your sparks.

On sharing EdCreds: We have to keep EdCreds distinct from money and other currency that can be freely donated, borrowed, and spent. EdCreds must be earned, non-transferable, and linked to an individual from birth (or time of registration). To have the greatest potential for success, EdCreds must represent the earned educational experiences of each person and no one else. No borrowing, inheriting, or buying. There is still room for other traditional monetary solutions like educational crowdfunding and improved college accounts.

On earning EdCreds through work:
It seems that EdCreds would be a perk added to education-oriented jobs as you suggest. Perhaps credits can be limited to education-oriented jobs to prevent outside companies from abusing students – as in the increasing number of unpaid internships. I like the idea of using EdCreds to purchase books and other qualified educational items. Once they are used to purchase food, lodging, or other non-educational items, the system may be at risk for abuse and taxation. It seems safest to introduce EdCreds for tuition only at first, then proceed with caution!

On using EdCreds to self-promote:
As you mention, it might be a quick way for certain companies to measure a person’s motivation to learn outside the institution. Privacy options could be controlled through the EdCreds account, giving control over who sees EdCreds activities and totals. On this same note, EdCreds can improve the college app process as well, helping them measure past student extracurricular education participation – even by certain areas such as science, literature, service, environment, etc.

This leads to "smart" EdCreds:
If EdCreds track activities over years or decades, it can help students select majors and colleges that best fit their interests and experiences. This is a win-win because colleges will end up with students who are better matched for their programs and less likely to dropout.

On getting colleges on board:
There are built-in advantages for a college to accept EdCreds as a tuition supplement.

• EdCred-friendly colleges will attract motivated learners, naturally reducing their dropout rates and raising academic levels

• Only EdCred-friendly colleges can offer EdCred perks to students and teachers for education work outside of the classroom

• Only EdCred-friendly colleges can offer EdCreds with lecture programs, research work, and educational summer camps offered on-site

• By their nature, use of EdCreds will increase slowly over time, easing colleges into their financial impact

• Colleges can control the value of EdCreds at their campus each year based on its success

• EdCred-friendly colleges can attract funding campaigns that leverage donations with EdCred usage

• Colleges will not be limited in adjusting tuition fees. We still need additional solutions to help discourage rising tuition. Some of these solutions include awareness programs like Tuition Heroes (one of the working ideas on this forum), transparency of process, and published college value ratings.

• EdCreds awareness campaigns such as a badge program (similar to Tuition Heroes) can help give EdCred-friendly colleges even more visibility.

By empowering a huge market of families with children of any age, EdCreds will quickly increase public awareness and concern over the problem of rising tuition. This visibility, when coupled with creative EdCreds campaigns, will discourage colleges from unfair hikes while allowing children to “learn and earn” their own way to college.

Love to hear your feedback. EdCreds was inspired by this OpenIDEO challenge, and you have already helped me address some key concerns. It’s quite ironic that I'm also caught in the middle of the college app process for my own son!

Photo of Andrea Deau
Team

Really like your idea.  Reminds me off the CCC camps to improve the US infrastructure when so many people were without a job.  Your concept leverages untapped people resources for public good and personal growth.  A double win and both are needed.

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Team

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Sarah Bawazeer
Team

I absolutely second this idea. It's awesome. On the other hand, organizations and businesses must offer free of charge programs. 

Photo of Shari Cheves
Team

Yes, many businesses can improve by making their events and activities more accessible. It will be important to bring existing inclusive programs on board early with EdCreds to serve as good models. Some of these might include Salvation Army Youth Camps, "Play For All" at Minnesota Children's Museum, and the recent White House initiative "Every Kid In a Park" – free fourth grade admission to National Parks. If you find more examples, please share.

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Team

Congrats on making it to the Refinement Phase Shari! In the next few days we'll be sending you additional feedback to help you take this idea forward - so be on the lookout for that. We're looking forward to how this idea will grow!

Photo of Mustafa Akkoc
Team

Next Semester , I want to start studying at Rice University in Houston , How does Edcreds   help me to pay tuition fee for next semester ? 

Photo of Shari Cheves
Team

The EdCreds concept would allow students to earn tuition credits before, during, and after college by engaging in qualified educational activities. This might include school tutoring, visiting museums, or publishing instructional media. Once these activities are completed and formally registered as such, you could build EdCreds. In theory, if Rice University and other colleges agreed to accept EdCreds as currency for a portion of tuition, you would be able to make a difference. Keep in mind, EdCreds are ideal for students who are not yet able to work to earn actual dollars – minimum work ages do not allow for enough years to save for college. EdCreds provided as job perks to new educators can also encourage college graduates to enter the field of teaching and help reduce their student loans.