Among all the depressing college-related news in the various headlines this week, there was one positive headline worth noting. It’s the headlines that Grantoo made by announcing its first nationwide public social gaming tournament. The tournament, which is set to begin on April 8, 2012, will allow students from 40 colleges and universities to earn money for college tuition. The tournament will also give the winning students an opportunity to help out some charities while playing fun games.
The primary tournament will officially begin on Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 9 p.m. EDT. There will also be other tournaments held each day from Monday, April 9th through Saturday, April 13th. The grand prize for the first tournament will be $2,000, with $500 prizes for each of the remaining tournaments. All of the tournaments will be sponsored by WePay, who is putting up a total of $5,000 to be divided into tuition grants for 12 students. One of the stipulations is that the students must already be attending one of the 40 colleges or universities that are on Grantoo’s list of eligible schools. Another requirement is for the contestants to pledge at least 10 percent of their winnings to one of the charities that is on Grantoo’s list of verified charities. There are no entry fees or any other cost to the students to participate in the tournaments.
Basically, the way the tournament works is this:
1. College and university students go to the Grantoo website at http://sip.grantoo.org.
2. The students then check to ensure their college or university is on the eligibility list.
3. Next, the student registers an email and password with Grantoo, along with a few other details about their school attendance and choice of charities, as well as the amount of desired percentage of winnings to go for donations to the charity.
4. Once the student has been signed up for the contest and accepted as an eligible contestant, the student joins an online social media game at the tournaments’ specified times and dates.
5. If the student wins anything, then the correct percentage of the winnings will be sent directly to the chosen charities, with the remaining amount sent directly to the school.
6. The university or college then treats the funds as if they were any other type of scholarship and applies the money towards tuition, books and other college-related expenses.
Grantoo was founded in September 2011 by Dimitri Silam and Mikahael Naayem. These two long-time friends wanted to help students pay college-related expenses. They specifically wanted students to have fun playing social media games while earning money for their tuitions. The founders also wanted to help various charities establish a steady base of donors and volunteers. Moreover, Grantoo’s founders wanted to acknowledge and reward the numerous businesses that contribute to educational funds and charitable causes. So the founders established a social media community where students, schools, businesses, and charities could constantly interact with each other. The two founders also established a business that is both, for-profit and non-profit, to go along with the social media website.
The Grantoo Foundation represents the non-profit part of the business. The foundation partners with local colleges, universities and charitable businesses to sponsor tournaments that allow eligible college students to earn tuition-related prizes. The tournament sponsors send their checks to the foundation, which makes the donations tax deductible for the contributors. Then a hundred percent of the foundation’s funds get distributed among the winning students and charities. Although only 40 schools are currently on the eligibility list, the Grantoo founders are hoping to add more colleges and universities in the near future. They also hope to increase the level of participation by students, businesses and charities, as well as expand the number and types of games available on the Grantoo social platform.
The for-profit part of the Grantoo business lets companies sponsor regular games and advertise on the social media website. However, there’s no tuition prizes awarded for winning these regular games. Instead, the students win other prizes, such as discount coupons or free promotional merchandise from national brands. The companies can also list their available internships, which the students can then search for by company or category.
WePay is an online payment-collecting platform that makes it easier for individuals and groups to accept donations and payments. WePay was founded in 2008 and has been striving to become a major rival to PayPal since its conception. Actually, one of PayPal’s co-founders has become a member of WePay’s impressive list of supportive venture capitalists. WePay currently prides itself on providing great service without all the hassles of requiring the member to set up a merchant account, website or install special programming.
The site also makes it easy for anyone to set up a fund-raising “ribbon” that can be used to promote any cause. The cause can be a public or more personal cause, such as raising funds for college-related expenses or paying medical bills. According to WePay CEO Bill Clerico, they help college students collect money online every day. CEO Clerico stated that WePay understands how financially stressful those college years can be and that is why they are thrilled to be Grantoo’s launch partner.
Social gaming for fund-raising purposes is not a new concept. Nor is it a new concept to have businesses sponsor charitable events or college-related tournaments. It’s also not a new idea to require game winners to donate a certain percentage of the winnings to a charity. It most certainly isn’t unusual to find college students promoting a good cause on social media sites or playing social games. However, it is a unique concept to set up a social media community specifically for the purpose of creating long-term beneficial relationships between schools, charities, students and businesses. Hopefully, Grantoo and WePay will be successful enough to set new trends in the way fund-raising is done, both online and off-line.