Chicago native and 2013 Princeton University graduate, Trevor Wilkins, has created a new mobile app that is sure to make more students want to achieve higher grades.
Küdzoo has brought businesses and schools together with the goal of getting more students excited about excelling academically. He has started introducing the app to high school students in Chicago Public Schools.
Wilkins attended Whitney Young High School, the same school that First Lady Michelle Obama attended. He and his co-founder Logan Cohen created the innovative app this past January. When students open Küdzoo, they are instructed to snap a photo of their report cards. In return for good grades, attendance and answering daily SAT and trivia questions, they receive rewards. One of the perks of the redeemable “Küdzoo Cash” is that it allows them to get deals and discounts from local businesses. The app also offers students rare opportunities to do things like have a meet-and-greet with their favorite athlete, spend a day with a local TV reporter, receive a lesson in how to be a radio personality from a local crew member, and more.
Wilkins said the inspiration to create the app came from his personal experiences. As a child, his parents would offer incentives for doing well in school.
“After awhile [getting good grades] was about more than just money, so in high school I wanted to perform and do well because I was used to doing so,” Wilkins said.
When he began classes at Princeton, he said there were very few Blacks.
“I was a little frustrated by this because I felt that the people I had grown up with could have graduated from Princeton or similar schools,” Wilkins said. Those early feelings led to him comparing his household to many of his peers back in Chicago. He realized that not everyone’s parents could afford monetary awards in exchange for good grades. He recognized that some of his peers lacked the motivation that he had. That recognition propelled him to figure out a way to get youth excited about doing well in school.
Wilkins is targeting schools that are participating in CPS’ new pilot program, which adds a comprehensive computer science curriculum to 46 schools. The initiative, which was announced in December, is Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS’ way of expanding access to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
CPS has partnered with technology leaders, some of which include Google and Code.org, the non-profit that Wilkins works with. Code.org pushes schools to include computer science in its curriculum. They target women and students of color. Wilkins is working with the organization’s initiative called CS4 ALL. He is encouraging students to consider a career in computer science or technology.
“My mission is to go into these schools and speak about the benefits of getting into computer science,” Wilkins said.