Drake University has just launched a new initiative allowing students to spend Bulldog Bucks at local businesses to encourage students to explore the Drake neighborhood.
Bulldog Bucks are an account on students’ ID cards that can be loaded with funds either by students or guests through an online portal. The funds on these are separate from meal plan flex dollars and carry forward from semester to semester as long as the student has an active Drake ID card.
Participating businesses in the Drake neighborhood include Fong’s Pizza, Lucky Horse and many other businesses coming soon such as Dough Co Pizza, Kum & Go and Fernando’s Mexican Grill.
Drake students cannot use Bulldog Bucks to purchase tobacco, alcohol or gift cards according to the statement released by the Student Services Center.
“I’m personally really excited to see this program launching,” Sara Heijerman, chair of the Student Services operations, said. “This topic comes up every year during orientation. Parents and students are always curious if they can spend campus funds in the neighborhood and now we can finally answer that this is an option.”
Heijerman said that a survey done by the Drake Community Board in 2017 found that out of 467 respondents, 54% of students indicated that increasing interactions with local businesses would mend the gap between the Drake neighborhood and the university. This created the idea for the new initiative as well as numerous businesses approaching the university to encourage the idea of using campus cards as payment options.
“I believe this is a right step for Drake, as this expands students’ opportunities and gets them into the Drake neighborhood,” junior Kyle Tekautz said. “Additionally, I think this is a great partnership for Drake to uplift the local businesses that have been [impacted] by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to limitations with the Hubbell remodel, this gives students another dining option, and may be more accessible to those with dietary restrictions.”
Other students have also voiced excitement.
“I think it’s great,” Mike Straub, a first year student, said. “I don’t like spending money from my bank account, but if it is already in my Bulldog Bucks account then it is easier for me to spend with good conscience.”