What is Economis?
Economis is a web-based software application that creates a mini-economy for the purpose of teaching youth the basic concepts of economics and money management. Economis creates a virtual token economy/system for the purpose of teaching students basic concepts of economics, with a special emphasis on money management skills. Students gain experience in earning, spending, using online banking, and learning about taxes and payroll. This experience takes place in a virtual world. Mistakes and problems can be instructive without the consequences of the real world. Economis creates a powerful behavior modification tool through incentives that reinforce positive development of youth.
How does Economis work?
The Economis Card
Students receive an Economis card that is similar to a credit card, with their picture and name on the front and a magnetic stripe and bar code on the back. They use this card to clock in and out of a meeting or activity, and earn “credits” at an hourly rate for the time in attendance. The hourly rates of a timeclock can vary, from smaller amounts for recreational activities to larger amounts for educational programs, thereby creating an incentive for students to attend meetings and activities which are more learning-oriented. Individual transactions can also be created, such as a merit for completing a task, or a demerit for misbehavior. Earning is logged into a “payroll module” which automatically deducts taxes and deposits a paycheck into the student’s online checking account weekly.
Students log in to view their “finances”. The payroll check can be viewed inside their checking account, with a pay stub showing the “Hours and Earnings”, “Taxes and Deductions” (such as FICA, state, city and federal taxes), and gross and net pay. Additional financial options include a student savings account, a credit card option, and Certificates of Deposit (CDs), which include broker fees and penalties, as appropriate. These features teach in a practical way such concepts as interest and risk, debt management, and credit limits.
Students can use their credits to purchase items, using either an online shopping module or a point-of-sale terminal on site. Items sold by chapters currently using Economis range from snacks and drinks to mobile phones, pre-paid phone cards, iPods, and even a used car! Students can also pay for events, such as camping trips. Each chapter has complete control over items available for purchase.
Other features include assessing sales tax on purchases, and fundraising, where students can give credits to help out another student or charity drive, for example to raise needed credits to be able to go on a camping trip.
Each ministry has wide flexibility to customize the features and settings of Economis to fit their particular needs. Features such as CDs, taxes, and online shopping can be either turned on or off. Percentages, such as tax and interest rates, can be set to any level, either to imitate the current local economy or to make the advantages of saving and earning interest more apparent (e.g. by setting interest rates higher on CDs). Various reports are also available: tracking time-clock entries, transactions, inventory, sales, earnings, and net worth of student portfolios.
Link with YFC Impact
A YFC chapter using Economis has their account linked to YFC Impact. This means that there is no need to enter students or staff into Economis. That’s right! Once students and staff are entered into YFC Impact, they are set up in Economis if the appropriate box is checked. In addition, individual meetings in YFC Impact can be linked to timeclocks in Economis, so that when students clock in to a particular meeting or activity with their Economis cards, they are automatically entered in attendance in YFC Impact.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do YFC Impact and Economis work together?
YFC Impact and Economis are linked together so that youth and staff in YFC Impact database are available in Economis as well. It is also possible to link a meeting in YFC Impact to a timeclock in Economis, so that students clocking in to a meeting or activity using their Economis cards are automatically entered in attendance in YFC Impact. Staff with access to both sites can easily switch between them without having to log in twice (username and password are the same for both).
How can I teach my urban students economic literacy using Economis?
There are a large variety of lesson plans, teaching tools, and activities and games that can be used in conjunction with Economis. We will be adding a page where chapters and organizations using Economis can share these types of resources.
How much will Economis cost to implement and use?
The web application is available to any YFC Chapter for a fee of $100 per month. The subscription covers unlimited ministry-site usage within the chapter. You can grow and scale Economis 2.0 and expect no additional subscription costs as you grow new ministry sites.
Other costs associated with Economis depend on how many youth will be served and how Economis is implemented. Please refer to the Economis Sample Budget for additional information.