A groundbreaking study to create economic opportunity.
About The $50 Study —
The $50 Study, a multi-state randomized control trial (RCT) facilitated by Rooted School Foundation (RSF), is the first and largest study of its kind exploring the impact of disbursing unconditional cash to teenagers, as participating students receive $50 a week for 40 weeks.
To further our cause, we’ve set up a 6-month Paypal campaign.
About this Program
reduce students’ financial hardship
enhance their financial capability
promote upward economic mobility
positively impact students’ academic achievement
The $50 Study
From 2022-2024, high school students will participate in a study wherein some students will be randomized into a treatment condition receiving $50/week unconditionally for 40 weeks, and others will be randomized into a control condition, receiving no cash intervention. The study explores the impact of these cash transfers on a multitude of outcomes, including academic outcomes, perceptions of self and financial well-being.
Research questions that we will explore during the study are:
- Do direct cash transfers promote students’ financial stability and freedom?
- Does guaranteed income improve students’ financial capability and financial socialization?
- How does guaranteed income impact students’ future orientation?
- Does guaranteed income impact academic and school performance?
The study will be conducted in two phases. Phase I ran through the 2022 – 2023 school year, with 153 participating students (treatment group = 82 students) in New Orleans and Indianapolis. Phase II will be conducted through the 2023 – 2024 school year with 314 students from the same two cities (treatment group = 91 students).
Are Direct Cash Transfer Programs Effective?
1. Cash transfers have well-documented positive effects on recipients worldwide, with dozens of high-quality evaluations of cash transfer programs spanning Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
3. Studies have shown that cash transfer programs lead to positive long-term outcomes as recipients often save or invest a portion of their cash.
4. Despite stereotypes about how people experiencing poverty choose to spend their money, studies consistently show that recipients of cash transfers spend their money on things that positively impact their own lives.
RCT Early Findings
Students receive $50 a week on reloadable debit cards. Students are free to spend the money as they see fit. Cards are able to be used for online shopping, are able to be connected to digital banks (CashApp, etc) and can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs. Students can also use the accounts created when they received the cards for any direct deposits through jobs that they might have. Students spend their money in ways that suggest the cards address immediate needs: food, transportation and retail. The spending pattern of students reflect the same patterns of adults in similar types of programs.
Quotes from students below were captured while recording the Rooted Cash Podcast, a student led podcast produced in collaboration with BeLoud Studios Students shared that they were able to take advantage of more opportunities because of the $50 transfers. Many students expressed that they no longer had to ask their parents for money to participate in extracurriculars, or to engage in activities that support their future, like college trips.
Students also shared the ways that the cash transfers have positively impacted their financial literacy and capability. Students were able to articulate new skills and new mindsets related to financial literacy and capability.
Impact on Family and Community
The transfers have also had a positive impact on students’ mental health, as well as their relationship with their family and family members. Students shared feeling closer to their siblings and parents because of the transfers.
GPA: Median increase in GPA for 56% in treatment compared to 50% in control.
Credit Attainment: Median increase in credits obtained for treatment students.
Lexile (Reading Level): Median Lexile growth of 10 points for treatment students.
Attendance: 38% of students in treatment saw a decrease in absences compared to 27% in control.
Disclaimer: This data is not conclusive nor statistically significant.
How to Get Involved
Our study is doing groundbreaking work to explore innovative interventions to create economic opportunity.
What your funds make possible:
$50 = 1 student’s weekly transfer
$200 = 1 student’s transfers for a month
$500 = 1 podcast episode
$1000 = 1 week of all Rooted NOLA student transfers
$2000 = 1 student’s transfers for 40 weeks (the whole study!)
$3000 = All transfers for 40 weeks and associated programmatic costs
$5000 = 5 weeks of Rooted NOLA student transfers
$10k = Either 10 weeks of Rooted NOLA student transfers or 3 weeks of Collegiate Academy student transfers
The $50 Study in the Media
Indy Star: Will $50 a week teach kids fiscal skills in Indianapolis school’s study, close wealth gap?
The charter chain’s “moonshot,” as its website states, is to close the wealth gap between Black and white Americans. The $50 cash project is a teaching tool toward that mission.
The 74: From Fast Food to Savings Accounts, $50 Weekly Payments Shift Students’ Thinking
Rooted Schools in Indianapolis and New Orleans build student financial literacy with guaranteed income.
Fast Company: The $50 Study was highlighted in Fast Company's list of World Changing Ideas in 2023.
The study was awarded as a Finalist in the Social Justice Category and as an Honorable Mention in the North America and Experimental Category.