Mountain View January 8, 2015

Mountain View High Students Kick Off Discount Card Program

by Kevin Forestieri / Mountain View Voice

Two seniors at Mountain View High School are looking to leave one last gift for their fellow students before heading off to college: a student card that could score discounts for teens at businesses all over Mountain View.

Friends Alex Paulsen and Leo Hsia have been working together throughout the school year to create the discount card that students at the school can show to local businesses and get as much as 20 percent off food and haircuts, among other things.

Paulsen said their goal was to help students save money with the discounts while promoting the participating local businesses by attracting more students. He said it also helps the school, which will collect a $20 fee for each card sold.

“We got the idea last year, and it’s something we really wanted to do,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen and Hsia coordinated with William Blair, assistant principal at the school, to make their idea a reality. The cards, which are set to come out in the coming weeks, could include the student’s name and photo so businesses can verify the student owns the card.

Blair said both Paulsen and Hsia have been able to track down eight businesses so far that are willing to participate in the student discount card program; they sought out teen-friendly places that kids might go to during lunch period. Although Blair has helped guide the students on what is possible or even legal for setting up the card program, everything else has been done by the teens.

“They’ve done all the work,”Blair said.

Paulsen said they went door-to-door asking for the manager or the store owner so they could pitch their idea. While some businesses were receptive to the idea and willing to try it out, Paulsen said, the common issue was among large corporate chains that couldn’t accommodate a local student discount.

“They were too corporate, so they didn’t have the power to make that decision,” Paulsen said.

New York Pizza, Peet’s coffee, Una Mas and Baskin Robbins are among the businesses that agreed to participate in the discount program.

Los Altos High School already has a similar discount card, called the “Eagle Card,” which can be purchased for $20 and can be used at 21 different local businesses, according to the school website.

There are still several details that need to be worked out before the cards can go live. The school needs to decide what to do with the money collected through card sales, and while Paulsen and Hsia want to use the money to support AVID, a program that prepares first-generation college-bound students for four-year universities, Blair said it goes against the education code to spend student body money on an academic program like AVID.

Paulsen and Hsia plan to do announcements, contacting parents through school emailing lists and the principal’s weekly message, the “Grissom Gazette.” Paulsen said they might also create a commercial for the new card on a local television station.