Drake University recently expanded the reach of its Bulldog Bucks off-campus program and declining balance account, enabling students and other Drake community members to make purchases at local businesses. The university hopes the initiative will foster a stronger town-gown relationship by helping to both encourage students to explore more of the Drake neighborhood, as well as support local businesses affected by the pandemic.
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 a report from the Times Delphic, a 2017 survey compiled by the Drake Community Board found that 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, along with numerous local businesses approaching the university to participate, helped encourage the idea of using Drake student ID cards as a payment option beyond the confines of campus.
“This topic comes up every year during orientation,” said Sara Heijerman, chair of the Student Services operations, in a Times Delphic interview. “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.”
“I believe this is a right step for Drake, as this expands students’ opportunities and gets them into the Drake neighborhood,” added Drake University junior, Kyle Tekautz. “Additionally, I think this is a great partnership for Drake to uplift the local businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Drake students can add funds to their Bulldog Bucks account in person during business hours in the Student Services Center, or online via Drake’s eAccounts portal. Students also have the option to download the Transact Campus eAccounts app and add funds via their Apple or Android smartphones, as well as check remaining balances, recent transactions, view monthly statements, or report a card as lost or stolen.