Monkey Money

Monkey Money (M$M) is a virtual checking account for your students.

Students “earn” money each time they scan in and can spend that money by using their barcode tag like an ATM card. We found that M$M increases participation and builds a sense of personal empowerment as the students earn and spend their own money.

Keeping things “virtual” means there is nothing to manually track, no spreadsheets and nothing the student can lose. All you need is the Active4me ATM Mobil App or a laptop connected to the internet to withdraw money from the students account.

How it works

The site administrator determines how much to deposit with each trip scanned. The virtual currency can also be renamed to anything you like; Coyote Cash, Boot Bucks, or Bay View Bucks are all examples. It’s important to note that the M$M is “trip” based. This keeps the system fair and encourages behavior change no matter how far away the student lives.

Student Feedback

Each time the student scans in you can update them on their miles and M$M total. This feature is also enabled in the mobile apps.

The Party

M$M parties are usually quick (less than one hour) and held after school. Parent volunteers supply baked goods, fruit, books and toys.

It's a good idea to limit students to two baked goods to be sure you have enough for all. If you do they can get back in line. Be sure to post the “incentive report” to a nearby wall. This lists the barcode number and the total amount in the students account. Do this or you will have 100 students freaking-out and asking you to lookup how much they have in their account. The checkout process is easy, scan the students card, this displays their current balance, enter in the purchase price and click the submit button. Withdraws can be made with our new mobile App or through the web site.

Web Browser Access

The first two parties will be excited chaos and we recommend you have one or two working the line, letting students know where to find their total, someone to answer “how much is this” questions and at least two checkout people. By the third party, the students know the routine and you will have a system in place and will require less volunteer help.


It would not be any fun unless you can measure it. The ATM Report allows you to view the number of participants and how much incentive money was transferred during your party or for any date range.

Works With Virtual Badges

The Monkey Money can also be combined with a Virtual Badge. For example if you want to encourage students to use active transportation 6 times in a month you can set a Virtual Badge and a set amount of M$M to be awarded on their 6th scan of the month.

Other Ideas:

  1. Offer the M$M only on random days.
  2. Partner with a local bank and give the students real money deposited to an account.
  3. Give individual teachers access to allow M$M to be spent in the “classroom store”.

The Party

They will buy fruit too!

Items For Sale

The ATM Report

Why was Monkey Money Created?

Monkey Money was created to solve a problem of waning interest and participation. This issue was first noticed at our main “lab”, Birch Lane Elementary in Davis CA, that scans every school day where we noticed an increasing number of students just walking by. They had ridden their bikes but were no longer interested in the positive verbal encouragement that had been really successful the last year and a half. What to do? Engaging the older 5th and 6th graders was becoming more difficult and we wanted to give them a fun reason to participate. By chance, we had been forwarded articles about schools that paid students for grades and attendance. What if we “paid” students in a virtual currency to encourage them to use active transportation? It needed to be “virtual” so there was nothing for the student to lose or keep track of. A few days later, we had “Monkey Money.” If you want to see an elementary student freak out, tell them they are earning money. Even virtual money makes them excited.

Mobile Apps