Sometimes it is hard to motivate college students to look beyond the textbooks and the parties to the community of which they are a part. Lyndon State College in rural Lyndonville, Vermont tried some old fashioned rewards – with impressive results. Custom coins which serve as “Community Cash” are the cornerstone of the rewards program – the Coins redeemed for raffle prizes at an end-of-semester “Casino Night.”
Community Cash coins were awarded to students who took part in community events and programs, like residence hall educational and social programs, campus or community service events, or “whenever students were spotted living the LSC promise” says Leo Sevigny, Associate Dean of Student Affairs.
The Lyndon State Promise calls for students to make a sincere effort to:
- communicate openly, honestly and respectfully with others
- practice personal and academic integrity
- discourage bigotry, respect differences and learn from other’s ideas, values and experiences
- respect the property of others
- be curious, think critically, ask questions and actively contribute to the learning environment
- demonstrate compassion and responsibility through service and involvement in LSC and the community
When they live the promise, students are rewarded with Community Cash coins which are distributed by faculty and staff, Resident Assistants, Orientation Leaders, PeerNet Guides, Student Government Executives, and Campus Activity Board Executives.
Students amass coins throughout the semester in anticipation of the “Community Cash Raffle.” Here they use their Community Cash to purchase raffle tickets for prizes like TV’s, iPODs, gift certificates to the bookstore, and more. Students determine which prizes they want to purchase raffle tickets for – and in what quantities. Approximately 50 prizes were raffled off and over 7,000 of the custom coins were redeemed on “Casino Night.”
“We’ve received good feedback” says Sevigny. “We’re repeating the program again this semester and the interest seems to be increasing. The coins are disappearing faster.”
One reason that coins tend to be kept is that, unlike tickets or paper vouchers, coins are unique and thus have a higher perceived value. They add some heft when kept with pocket change – so they are less likely to be run through the washing machine, discarded or otherwise lost. And unlike paper based products, they can be re-used for future events and endeavors (not to mention their ability to tolerate wash and dry cycles when left in jeans pockets).
The 7,000 tokens “spent” during Casino Night are put back into circulation – rewarding students for their community spirit, and providing a positive return on Lyndon State’s investment in the program. In total, 10,000 aluminum coins were minted with the Lyndon State mascot on one side and “Community Cash” on the other. Since they do not wear out, the coins should last for years.
Sevigny was introduced to custom coins by their local ASI supplier, Forbes Marketing, who helped with the program concept, coin design and implementation. Apparently their ideas were good ones, as the program is working even better the second time around!