New Heights is a school for autistic students with classes from kindergarten through to high school graduation. Our mission is “Preparing our kids for the community and the community for our kids”. We decided to implement ClassEquity because we see it as a way to prepare our students for life after high school and give them real practice with earning and spending school money.
All of our high school students participate in Work Experience as part of their coursework. We have tried to make it feel more like a real-world job by incorporating payment through ClassEquity. After each “shift,” students are required to submit a timesheet with their hours worked. At the end of the month, we issue them a paystub with the appropriate amount of taxes taken off and a paycheck for them to deposit.
Once they are adults, many of our students will qualify for government funding based on their ability to maintain employment. Part of the requirements for this funding is that they submit their pay stub monthly to the government. To make ClassEquity as real life as possible, we require our high school students to email us their pay stubs each month in the correct format before we will issue them their payment.
We also issue expenses based on the research that our students do. If they can find a better deal on wifi and show the teacher, we will adjust the amount that they are charged each month for wifi. Similarly, they decide if they want to live alone or with a roommate, downtown or in the suburbs, etc., and do research on RentFaster to find a suitable place. The amount they have to pay for rent is based on how they decide they want to live. They quickly learn that a downtown apartment on their own is not going to leave them much spending money!
The development of our school store has been a full school project. Some of our junior high students work in the store weekly to do inventory and stock shelves. We “employ” high school students to issue paychecks and expenses every month. We had a school-wide contest that included all students, staff, and family to decide on our store name and logo - the winner was Basecamp!
My advice would be to start slow and add things once you work out some of the bumps. One thing that helped was implementing ClassEquity and Basecamp slowly. We started with a Holiday Market where each student automatically had $10 to spend before the winter break. In the new year, we will slowly be introducing more store hours and possibly coffee for the teachers and hot lunch for the students! The students are excited and full of many ideas! Having the Holiday Market helped build excitement and allowed us to try some things and make adjustments before our official opening.
Also, reach out to the ClassEquity team for help! They provided great training for our staff and are always available for questions and support. We have been excited to be a part of the growth of ClassEquity and can’t wait to see where it goes.