The "conditional cash transfer" program, modeled on plans in places like Mexico and Brazil, is privately funded but administered by the city.
Mayor Bloomberg has said the program "gives New Yorkers in poverty a financial incentive to look ahead and make decisions that will improve their prospects for the future."
About 14,000 participants will take part in the two-year $53 million pilot program beginning this fall.
As many as 5,100 families of three living below the poverty line in six low-earning neighborhoods, with at least one kid in fourth, seventh or ninth grade in a public school, would participate in the educational part of the program.
Half of the families (the rest will serve as a control group to measure results) will get paid as much as $5,000 a year for meeting various clean-living goals.
Among those families, teenagers will get paid directly $50 for taking the PSAT (a warm-up for the SAT, the most widely used college entrance exam), $300 for getting 11 high school credits a year and $50 for getting a library card - and a whopping $600 for every Regents exam passed, up to a maximum of five.
That means some teens could be directly paid as much as $3,000 by the city. Five Regents are needed to graduate high school.
The logic behind the move is that "in the adolescent years, it's the adolescent behavior that needs to be incentivized as much as the parents' behavior," said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, who's overseeing the program.
Recipients, being selected this summer before the program begins in the fall, can have the money deposited directly into their bank accounts.
Also, 4,100 adults who get Section 8 federal housing vouchers - with half serving as the control group - will get $150 monthly for working 30 hours a week, and $600 for every block of 140 hours in job training.
And about 18,000 fourth- and seventh-graders from 80 pre-selected schools will get paid between $5 and $10 a test for 10 exams overall throughout the year that they finish. There are incentive bonuses thrown in for perfect scores.
The mayor himself is among the donors to the program, but City Hall aides declined to reveal how much of the $43.5 million raised he gave personally.
The Rockefeller and Starr Foundations are each reportedly giving $10 million, while AIG is giving $2 million and the George Soros-connected Open Society Institute is giving $5 million.
Gibbs said it would cost "hundreds of millions" if the program works without a hitch and the city decided to try it on a broader basis after two years.