Every Italian resident from the class of 1998 – a total of 574,000 – can claim their 'culture bonus', which they can use to buy books, concert tickets, theatre tickets, cinema tickets, museum visits and even trips to the country’s national parks.
The scheme will cost the Italian government €290 million, but the government considers the sum to be money well spent.
“The initiative sends a clear message to youngsters, reminding them that they belong to a community which welcomes them once they come of age,” parliamentary undersecretary Tommaso Nannicini, who is overseeing the initiative, told Corriere.
“It also reminds them how important cultural consumption is, both for enriching yourself as a person and strengthening the fabric of our society,” Nannicini added.
Teenagers can access the fund by registering online and downloading a specially-made app.
Through the '18app', each user will have a €500 balance which they can use for cultural expenses until the scheme expires on December 31st, 2017 – though they have to register for the app before the end of this year.
The app allows each user to create vouchers from the culture ministry, which can be used to make purchases.
The vouchers can be printed or downloaded to smartphones and tablets for making in-store purchases and can also be used to shop online.
Next year, teachers in Italy will benefit from a similar scheme, granting them €500 to spend on their own professional development.