ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Some struggling Pinellas County high school students are getting paid for their grades, and they have now received the money they were promised.
Approximately 20 local schoolkids each got a check for $500 for improving their reading literacy, along with a few other requirements.
The Get Paid for Grades program is the idea of Monica Eaton-Cardone, who owns Chargebacks911 in Clearwater. Eaton-Cardone says while interviewing high schoolers for positions at her company, she found some of them were lacking certain skills. So she created an incentive that's inspiring results.
"Maybe we can develop partnerships with schools in the area and see what we can do to infuse better confidence because that's the missing ingredient," Eaton-Cardone explained.
Here's how the program works. Selected students who have trouble with reading are paired with a school-approved tutor -- with the goal of improving their reading by at least one level. The student also participates in online workshops focused on things like professionalism and after-graduation planning.
The student's attendance is also tracked. If they meet the requirements at the end of the year, the student gets $500 to spend any way they want.
Boca Ciega High School student Ayana Simpson said the cash is great, but the feeling of accomplishment is just as important.
"It made me feel good that I made my family proud and I worked hard for it," Simpson said. "I'm going to save it for school and buy school clothes."
The tutor and schools also get money. If the student doesn't meet the requirements, no one gets anything.
This year was Marcisha Mongo's second participating in the program. He says it actually helped him graduate from Clearwater High. He says he's putting his money in the bank and saving it for college. He wants to be a doctor.
Those behind Get Paid for Grades hope to expand into other Pinellas County schools and eventually add math into the program.