The Million is an incentive program that rewards sixth and seventh graders with free cell phones in exchange for academic achievement.
TracFone Wireless, America’s leading “No-Contract” cellular service provider and the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University (EdLabs) announced the program Friday for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Designed in partnership with Dr. Roland Fryer, Founder & Principal Investigator at EdLabs, The Oklahoma City Public Schools Million will allow Dr. Fryer to continue his work testing how students respond to incentives.
“Cell phones are ubiquitous,” said Dr. Fryer. “The Million provides an unprecedented opportunity to use technology to communicate with students and boost their academic achievement.”
“We believe that there is a dire academic achievement gap in America, and our goal is to provide less-fortunate public school students with effective ways to bridge that gap. Though nobody has all the answers, we must start somewhere, and partnering with someone of Dr. Fryer’s stature means the results of this program will be tested with unmatched rigor,” says TracFone CEO FJ Pollak.
Though TracFone intends to roll out The Million on a national level, one of the world’s first branded corporate social responsibility platforms, the Oklahoma City Public Schools pilot will be a key first step, says the company.
On Oct. 8, 1500 randomly chosen students embarked on a nine-month experiment. All will receive minutes and texts provided by TracFone, via devices provided by Samsung, with additional support from local business leaders.
Students will continue to receive these rewards by reading books via the Accelerated Reader program.
“OKCPS is excited to be a part of this amazing opportunity to reward our students for academic achievement and put the district and city in the national education spotlight,” said Karl Springer, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent.
“The goal,” Pollak said, “is that The Million ultimately results in a meaningful increase in high-school graduation, as well as college enrollment and completion. We also intend to see a pronounced increase in reading.”
The Million, according to TracFone Wireless, originally debuted in New York City, in 2008, the result of collaboration between EdLabs, The New York City Department of Education and Droga5, a creative agency.
It received the Titanium Award at the Cannes Advertising festival and honors from the Clinton Global Initiative, says TracFone Wireless.