Chicago-area businesses that reward good grades

Chicago invited some controversy back in 2008 with a pilot program that paid kids for doing well in school. While the merits of cash-for-class is still being debated, plenty of area businesses have their own incentive programs, rewarding kids with everything from sweets to sports cards.

“It’s just a small something to encourage kids to work hard,” says Ronnie Holloway, co-owner of Chicago Allstars, a sports memorabilia store in Jefferson Park that rewards kids with a pack of trading cards. “When i was going to school, we didn’t have anything like that, but I think it would have been nice.”

Do you know a business that should be on the list? Leave a comment below or e-mail lhoffman@chicagoparent.com and we’ll check it out.

Those second-quarter report cards are up on the fridge – why not let them buy dessert? Plenty of area businesses have their own incentive programs, rewarding kids with everything from sweets to sports cards.

This corner confectionary has been hand-making its candies in Bucktown for nearly 90 years, and a report card with an A earns your little smartypants a free ice cream cone.

Margie’s Candies


With locations in Lakeview and the Loop, Graham Cracker Comics is a must-visit for any superhero fan or budding collector. Both locations give rewards toward back-issues of comics: $2 off for every A and $1 off for every B, up to 8 grades.

Graham Cracker Comics


Each A earns two tokens and each B earns one, up to 12 tokens total. These play zones also reward effort: Report cards with no absences or tardies get a free ICEE. Note: original report cards only (no photocopies).

Enchanted Castle &Haunted Trails


Open a savings account for your child at Liberty Bank, with five Chicago-area branches, get $5 for an A, up to $20 per year. It might not be enough to pay for that top-notch college those grades will earn, but consider it late-night pizza money.

Liberty Bank


With Over the Rainbow’s “Ice Cream for Excellence” program, a report card with three or more As gets a free ice cream cone.

Over the Rainbow Ice Cream Parlor


Each A earns two 2 tokens and each B earns one, up to 20 tokens total. A perfect attendance record earns kids a free ice cream sundae. Note: original report cards only (no photocopies).

Go Bananas


Big John’s &Little Debby’sL Throughout the school year we have “Topps of the Class” work hard in school then bring in your report card and receive sports cards free.

Big John’s &Little Debby’s


Bring in your straight-A report card and get two free skating sessions at this Crystal Lake skate park, a $15 value.

Warp Skatepark


Family Video gives free movie rentals for good grades. There’s one in Downers Grove. I’m not sure if it’s a big chain or not.

Family Video


Each A earns you 15 minutes of free track time at this old-school suburban track. Note: limit one redemption per visit.

Dad’s Slot Cars


Since this sports memorabilia store opened its doors in Jefferson Park in 2006, it’s been encouraging kids to do well in school. Just for bringing in a report card, kids get a pack of cards, and the rewards get better as kids’ grades improve. A straight-A report card often earns an autographed card.

Chicago Allstars



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