How small change from school lunch money could raise millions for charity

16th March 2016 at 15:00
Winning team
A group of students have developed a strategy to give left-over pennies to good causes

School enterprise has come a long way since the days of selling misshapen fairy cakes in the canteen. Last year, a school team from Hackney won the grand finals of the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge with a concept that could potentially raise £14.4 millon a year for charity.

iRoundUp, which is now in the early stages of professional production, was created by a team of five students from Skinners’ Academy (pictured). The scheme allows students to donate spare change to a nominated charity from the electronic currency stored on their ParentPay school identity cards.

The students' mentors had encouraged them to develop a concept that would benefit the wider community.

"The group came up with a range of business ideas including solar-powered roads," says Dalia Abubakr, communications and student support officer for Skinners’ Academy. "They still can’t clearly explain to me how that concept would work. But there was one other idea that caught our attention."

This was the concept of combining Oyster cards and ParentPay lunch cards, allowing guardians to top up their child’s two accounts using one simple system.

Abubakr says: "After a long conversation explaining how ParentPay’s lunch money system worked and the process of how parents topped up money, one pupil pointed out that they always wound up having odd change left on the card. 'What are we supposed to do with two or three pence?', she said. And so the iRoundUp concept was born."

Huge potential

The team quickly advanced through the rounds to reach the grand finals of the challenge. The chief executive of ParentPay was watching from the audience as the students delivered their business concept.

"As soon as the team announced the predicted annual figure of £14.4 million in donations, I felt the mood in the room change," says Abubakr. "The audience couldn’t believe that amount could be raised for charity from a concept developed by a group of five 15-year-olds from Hackney."

iRoundUp not only won the grand finals but was also picked up by ParentPay and the company has since been working with Skinners’ Academy to make the concept a reality. They hope to launch the tool to schools using ParentPay’s system in June 2016.

Skinners’ Academy is now competing in the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge for the fourth time and hopes to repeat their previous success at the finals on 4 May.

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