By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

Just a few weeks ago, Bright Mind Enrichment and Schooling (BME), a community wellness and education nonprofit, rolled out their mobile app and website: Vaccination Rewards, which aggregates incentives available to vaccinated individuals.

“As we were looking more into this rapidly evolving world we’re living in now, we were really seeing that there was this situation with vaccination where there were 10’s of millions of Americans who were holding back across communities,” said Craig Kaufman, the executive director of BME. 

Some of the reservations come from varying political rhetoric about the vaccine, distrust of institutions and exposure to misinformation, as well as economic concerns from people of low-income communities who worry they will be forced to take time off because of the vaccine’s side effects, according to Kaufman.

BME observed the constant educational and scientific outreach to these hesitant individuals and wanted to take a different approach by publicizing the perks vaccinated people have access to. 

“It wasn’t happening in a stand-alone setup. It was happening often within a framework of other entities, like government, and we felt like by doing this stand-alone we have a shot to reach people,” said Kaufman. 

Users have the option to look at deals being offered nationwide or deals being offered within their state. Each offer has an estimated value, and when a user clicks on it, they are immediately taken to either the website of the company that is offering the deal or to a news source that reported on the deal. 

The platform’s incentives total over $154 million, and they include paid time off from employers, like Allstate, Best Buy and Starbucks; free child care from KinderCare; and various discounts and giveaways from restaurants and stores. 

One deal that is exclusively advertised on Vaccination Rewards for Marylanders is the $2 million VaxCash Promotion from the Maryland Lottery, which started on May 25. Any resident who has been vaccinated in Maryland is automatically registered for a chance to win $40,000. Winners are randomly selected daily, and on July 4, the last day of the promotion, one person will win $400,000. 

Kaufman recognized that racial disparities persist in vaccination efforts and said that one of the motivations for creating Vaccination Rewards was to provide communities of color with more information about how they can benefit financially from receiving the vaccine. He also hopes that vaccinated individuals can use this platform to encourage their relatives and friends who are still on the fence to go and get vaccinated. 

“We’re hoping that we just give people a little bit of that nudge that might get them over the line and get the vaccine,” said Kaufman. 

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