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YOU get the REWARDS!

Straight A students get a $20 REWARDS! gift card & B Average students get a $10 REWARDS! gift card along with a coupon sheet to take advantage of your great Exchange offers.

Students who make the grade qualify to enter a worldwide sweepstakes to win a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 REWARDS! gift card. Drawings are held in December and June.

TO ENTER: You Made the Grade sweepstakes entry forms are on the back of the Exchange gift card carrier sleeve. Students can send completed forms to:

You Made the Grade
PO Box 227398
Dallas, TX 75222-7398

RECENT WINNERS

Vicenza 4th-Grader
It was a feeling of utter disbelief and then excitement when Fatima Sylla, a Vicenza fourth-grader, found out she had won the Exchange’s You Made the Grade first-place prize—a $2,000 Exchange gift card.
READ MORE ON EXCHANGE POST
Bruce Birch

Bruce Birch

7th Grade - Yokota Air Base, Japan

Seventh-grader Bruce Birch studies hard, and his dedication to academic excellence paid off—literally.

The Yokota Middle School student took home the second-place prize—a $1,500 gift card—in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes. Bruce received his prize at the Yokota Air Base Exchange during a presentation Feb. 10. Bruce's dad, Daniel, is a retired Air Force Veteran, and his mom, Cynthia, is a teacher at a Department of Defense Education Activity school. They attended the presentation along with Col. Patrick Launey, 374th Mission Support group; Exchange General Manager Julia Woods and Store Manager Chad Davis.

The You Made the Grade program rewards students in first grade through 12th grades, including homeschooled students, who achieve at least a B average on their report cards with a $5 Exchange gift card. Students can enter the worldwide sweepstakes for a chance to win a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card.

“I received the phone call about 2 a.m. because of the time difference between the U.S. and Japan,” said Bruce’s mother, Cynthia. “After they told me that he had won $1500, I couldn’t go back to sleep because I was so excited and happy for him.”

In the morning when she told Bruce that he had won the $1,500 Exchange gift card, he responded with “Is this a scam, Mom…are you joking?”

“When reality finally set in, he was extremely happy,” Cynthia said.

Bruce, a mostly straight A student, is self-motivated to get good grades because he thinks it is important. “Bruce is a student who works hard for his grades and tries his best on all of his assignments,” said Cynthia. “More important, he wants screen time to play games on his computer. And with good grades comes that screen time.”

Like a typical middle school student, Bruce has an array of hobbies that include fishing, playing “Dungeons and Dragons” with his friends and playing with his two dogs, but he enjoys gaming on his computer the most. With his new found riches, he plans on buying a 3D printer with all the accessories, more electronics and video games.

“I would like to thank the Exchange,” Cynthia said. “We are honored and proud to be recipients of this reward.”

Being a military child presents unique challenges that most civilian children do not experience. According to the Department of Defense Education Activity, military children switch schools an average of three times more often and move six to nine times during their school years.

“The Exchange realizes that military children also serve. They have to deal with frequent moves, school changes, making new friends and parent’s deployments,” Yokota Exchange General Manager Julia Woods said. “With our You Made the Grade program, we have an opportunity to reward and encourage all of our students to continue to reach for academic excellence.”

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Alexander Popovich

9th Grade - Camp Humphreys

Alexander Popovich’s academic achievements during the 2021-2022 school year earned him a $500 payday and a lasting memory.

The Humphreys High School freshman won the third-place prize—a $500 Exchange gift card—in the Exchange’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes. Alexander received his prize at the Camp Humphreys Exchange during a presentation on Jan. 20.

Alexander’s father, recently retired Air Force Master Sgt. David Popovich, his mother, Jennifer, Osan High School Virtual Technician, and older brother Travis, 11th grade, joined Humphreys Exchange’s General Manager Vanessa Rowland, Humphreys Store Manager Debra Melton and United States Army Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Lemon Jr., garrison’s senior enlisted leader, for the presentation.

Alexander and Travis regularly earn $5 Exchange gift cards by participating in the You Made the Grade program, which rewards students in first through 12th grades, including home-schooled students, who achieve at least a B average on their report cards. The gift cards include a mail-in entry form for the worldwide sweepstakes held in December and June for a chance to win a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card.

“Alex has always been a great student and makes the honor roll,” Popovich said. “Every quarter, my wife has me send in their entries but I never thought either of my kids would win.”

The You Made the Grade program is one of many ways the Exchange gives back to the community. According to the Department of Defense Education Activity, military children change schools an average of three times more often than their counterparts and move six to nine times during their school years.

“The You Made the Grade program definitely motivates him to get good grades,” Popovich said. ”He always looks forward to picking up his gift cards every quarter.”

Alexander plans to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Air Force. He wants to work in cybersecurity.

Brandon Maul

Brandon Maul

9th Grade - U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder, Germany

Brandon Maul started off the new year with some extra spending money thanks to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes.

Brandon won the third-place prize, a $500 Exchange gift card, which he received in a presentation at the Baumholder Exchange on Feb 1. He was randomly selected from nearly 500 qualifying entries worldwide.

“Honestly, it’s been crazy,” said Brandon, a ninth grader at Baumholder Middle High School. “I never win raffles.”

Maj. Frederik Maul, commander, 106th Financial Management Support Unit, said he was extremely proud of his son, who works hard to achieve his good grades. He appreciates that the Exchange acknowledges good students.

“I’m happy that he’s being recognized for the hard work he does,” Maul said. “It’s been especially difficult during COVID because he’s not at the school and around his peers.”

Exchange General Manager Carl Carpenter and Store Manager Sean Childers with the Baumholder Exchange presented Brandon with his $500 prize.

“We are honored to celebrate with Brandon,” Childers said. “The Exchange’s You Made the Grade program recognizes the resilience of military children and the importance of working hard to achieve goals.”

The Exchange’s You Made the Grade program rewards students in first through 12th grade for above-average academic achievement to inspire them to continue striving for excellence. Military children who maintain a B average higher can bring their report cards each grading period to their local Exchange for a $5 gift card. Students can then enter the worldwide sweepstakes for a chance at a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card. The next sweepstakes drawing will take place in June.

“Our military and their families sacrifice so much,” Carpenter said. “The You Made the Grade program is a way the Exchange honors military children for their hard work, and we are proud to be part of the family-serving-family team.”

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Mateo Rojas

11th Grade - Travis AFB

Summer break got even better for rising high school junior Mateo Rojas—he was named the grand-prize winner in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade program.

The program rewards military students like Mateo for maintaining strong academic performance. Mateo was selected as the top winner in a worldwide drawing and received a $2,000 Exchange gift card.

Mateo was at work as a lifeguard when his older brother, who works with him, told him to check his phone for an email from their mom with the good news.

“I was shocked,” said Mateo, who attended Castro Valley High School in the Bay area before the family relocated to San Diego this summer. “Shocked and very happy.”

Mateo’s father, Capt. Rodrigo Rojas, is retiring after serving 26 years in the Coast Guard.

“The Exchange is pleased to honor the hard work and resiliency of military children like Mateo,” said Travis Air Force Base Exchange General Manager Phonda Bishop. “He’s a great example to his peers of how dedication pays off.”

Mateo has always wanted to build his own computer and will use his prize to buy the parts he needs. His favorite subjects in school include math and history, and he is interested in a career in engineering or piloting, a passion that has grown through his participation in the Civilian Air Patrol.

“In military life, you move around so much, and you have to get acclimated each time,” said Mateo’s mom, Marisol Rojas. “Mateo and his brothers, through their whole lives, have been go-getters. Through COVID, they’ve kept up their grades. Mateo winning has been very exciting for the whole family.”

The Rojas family has been entering the You Made the Grade sweepstakes since Mateo was in middle school, and his older brother even won the third-place prize in 2017.

“Now my youngest is thinking he might win, too,” Marisol said. “The program has pushed my kids and is a great motivator to keep going.”

Mateo credits his parents for his success.

“I want to thank the Exchange for this prize and also my father and mother for always working hard,” he said. “I want to thank my dad for his service, which has always brought me great opportunities like this one.”

Sara Cockrell

Sara Cockrell

Age 13 - Fort Bragg

Sara Cockrell’s 13th birthday was extra special, thanks to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes.

Sara won the grand prize, a $2,000 Exchange gift card, which she received in a presentation at the Fort Bragg North Post Exchange on Jan. 29, her birthday. She was randomly selected from nearly 500 qualifying entries.

“I was astonished,” said Sara, a seventh-grader at R. Max Abbot Middle School in Fayetteville. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Sara, whose father, retired Sgt. Maj. Mario Cockrell, served 24 years in the Army, is planning to use her winnings to buy an iPad Pro so she can use its drawing function while playing her favorite online game, Roblox. As an aspiring architect, Sara is looking forward to using the iPad’s drawing feature to sketch ideas, as well.

Since Sara is learning remotely, she’ll also use her iPad for schoolwork and is excited about its high-quality camera, as well. Her other interests include playing in her school band, where she recently began playing flute.

“The Exchange is honored to celebrate Sara’s academic achievements, as well as provide her the tools to pursue her interests,” said Fort Bragg Exchange General Manager Amanda Hartfield. “Military children like Sara deserved to be recognized for their resiliency and accomplishments.”

Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Scott Pence and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Loehr joined Hartfield in presenting the grand prize to Sara, who attended with her younger brother and parents. Sara’s principal at R. Max Abbot Middle School, Carla Crenshaw, was also on hand to celebrate the occasion.

The Exchange’s You Made the Grade program rewards students in first through 12th grade for above-average academic achievement to inspire them to continue striving for excellence. Military children who maintain a B average higher can bring their report cards each grading period to their local Exchange for a $5 gift card. Students can then enter the worldwide sweepstakes for a chance at a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card. The next sweepstakes drawing will take place in June.

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Josiah Ko

6th Grade - Camp Humphreys

Sixth-grader Josiah Ko’s hard work and dedication to his studies has earned him an unforgettable paycheck and a lasting memory.

The Humphreys Middle School student won the third-place prize—a $500 Exchange gift card—in the Exchange’s You Made the Grade worldwide sweepstakes. Josiah received his prize at the Camp Humphreys Exchange during a presentation Aug. 3.

Josiah’s father, Maj. David Ko, chaplaincy resource manager for Headquarters, Headquarters Company, United States Army Garrison-Humphreys, as well as his mother, Jenny, and his sister, Annabelle, joined Regional Vice President Scott Bonner and Humphreys Store Manager Debra Melton for the presentation.

Josiah and his two older sisters regularly earn $5 Exchange gift cards by participating in the You Made the Grade program, which rewards students in first through 12th grades who achieve at least a B average on their report cards. The gift cards include mail-in entry forms for a worldwide sweepstakes for a chance to win a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card.

“Josiah is a great student,” his mother, Jenny said. “He studies hard, works well with others and gets along with his classmates and his teachers.”

Josiah wants a career as a meteorologist and studies diligently towards his goal. His favorite subjects are English language arts, math and science.

“I really like knowing about the weather,” Josiah said. “It’s fascinating.”

While his future may be in the sky, his heart remains down to earth. Instead of spending his well-earned prize on himself, he is surprising his grandfather who is back in the States, ill.

“Josiah wants to use the money towards getting his grandparents something that would bring them encouragement through his illness,” Jenny said. “To let them know he loves them since we are unable to be with them now.”

The You Made the Grade program is one of many ways the Exchange gives back to their community. According to the Department of Defense Education Activity, military children switch schools an average of three times more often than their counterparts and move six to nine times during their school years.

“You Made the Grade program is a fantastic program and my children really enjoy getting their $5 gift cards each quarter, as a reward for their diligence in their studies,” Jenny said. “Josiah winning the $500 third-place prize was a wonderful bonus. We’re so grateful. I hope that other children will be motivated to do their best in school—it will really pay off.”

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Bella Zavala

Age 9 - Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Bella Zavala, 9, of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, was presented with the grand prize—a $2,000 Exchange gift card—Aug. 1 at the Fort Belvoir Exchange.

“I really worked hard to keep my grades up, because I really want to make my mom and dad proud,” said Bella, who will begin the fourth grade this upcoming quarter.

“The You Made the Grade program is a good motivator for our kids,” said Lt. Col. James Zavala, Bella’s father. “My wife and I push them to do well and praise them every day, but it’s good for them to get some kind of outside acknowledgement for their grades. It really reinforces what we’re doing.”

Gallery of scholars, past & present