It might be a bit of a stereotype that college students like playing video games or messing around on the Internet when they’re not in class, but it’s something that could actually help them pay their way through school if Grantoo has anything to say about it.

Grantoo is a social gaming platform that wants to reward students for playing games in two ways; first, social gaming tournament winners get grants towards their college tuition and secondly, get to give a portion of their winnings to a charity of their choice. This model teaches students that it’s nice to receive as well as give, and it sounds pretty awesome to me.

The idea came to co-founder Dimitri Sillam in 2007 and has taken until now to completely form into a company. Not only did Grantoo have to build a gaming platform, it had to solidify the advertising model to find the money to give to students and charities, as well as becoming a non-profit itself. There are a lot of moving pieces here, but at the end of the day it kind of makes sense for everyone involved.

Play games, win big

Grantoo is holding its first ever public tournament on April 8th and it will be make or break for the model that it’s trying to prove out. Here’s how it works: companies sponsor the tournaments by putting up prize money, Grantoo provides the gaming platform, students who win get tuition money (if they go to an eligible school), and a charity gets a donation from the winner.

Sounds great to me, here’s a video with a bit more flavor:

The first company to sponsor a tournament is WePay, a service that lets you collect money online, without the need for a merchant account. The company is offering up $5,000 that will be divided into grants for 12 students, the grand prize being $2,000. By signing up and participating in the gaming challenge, which currently consists of a quiz game, card game, and word game, students must give 10% of their winnings to one of the following charities; Pencils of Promise, GlobeMed, The Hunger Project, Millennium Campus Network, Partners in Health, MAMA Hope, or Engineers without Borders.

This seems to be one of those ideas that works out for everyone, and since Grantoo is a non-profit itself, it’s clear that the company isn’t looking to make a lot of money from it. We’ll be watching and will let you know how the first tournament goes and which lucky students win and which awesome charities get a donation.

Grantoo