In review

Imagine earning points for the good you do everyday, then turning those points into great deals on healthy, organic and local food or to pay school expenses. That’s what’s possible with PIPs Rewards, a new mobile engagement platform with its own currency of good – ‘Positive Impact Points’ or PIPs.

Created by 3P Partners, Inc, a Certified B Corp, the PIPs Rewards App provides its customers (institutions such as universities, municipalities and businesses) a light, low-friction tool with which to verify, reward and reinforce positive impact behaviors among students and staff.

PIPs can be earned for a wide variety of daily life behaviors including but not limited to: riding the bus, biking, bike sharing, recycling, refilling water bottles, shopping responsibly, joining in a fitness class, completing mindfulness activities, attending a cultural event, volunteering, and participating in a group game. Once earned, PIPs can be converted into valued rewards: great deals on local and organic food; healthy personal care products; responsibly made clothing and gear; fitness classes; shared services, etc. They can also be donated to charity, and, starting in fall 2018, a student’s PIPs can be used to unlock matching funds for the singular purpose of paying “stay in school” expenses.

Available on Android and iPhone, the App gathers behavioral data intelligence using a variety of means – API integrations, beacons, sensors, QR codes, and transaction reports. These deep connections to apps, devices and reporting tools make the experience so light-touch and friction-free that a good many actions are verified and recorded without the user taking her phone out of her pocket. It should be noted that while the app is free and available to anyone, there are a number of earn and redeem options that are exclusive to users at affiliated institutions.

PIPs secret sauce

The PIPs App is unique among engagement platforms in the following ways:

  • Action data capture/verification – API integration, sensors, scanners, transaction reports, etc – keep the App so light and effortless to use that PIPs can be earned without a user having to take her phone out of her pocket.
  • The resulting data analytics with deep engagement metrics provides customers (user-communities) with real-time behavioral data for continuous improvement of user experience and optimization of outcomes.
  • High value rewards, such as using PIPs to pay school expenses or for discounts on healthy food, up the app’s stickiness and fuel continuous engagement in PIPs positive impact earn actions.
  • Principles of behavioral psychology, from loss aversion and social norming, to competitions and valued rewards, are applied to turn positive impact choice-making into a highly rewarding “cycle of good.”
  • Network effect among multiple brand partners eager to be part of an ever-expanding PIPs ecosystem of beneficial products and services.

PIPs Pilot at CU Boulder

University of Colorado – Boulder (CU Boulder) contracted with 3P to test the PIPs Rewards App among its students during Academic Year 2017-18. CU renewed its subscription for three more years and is looking to the PIPs App to help it meet two important goals:

  • Increase student retention and
  • Drive up engagement in sustainability and healthful behaviors

Usage and impact has exceeded expectations. Key milestones from the CU Boulder experience include:

  • User Growth:
    • 1600 students, or 5% of the student body, participated in the pilot during Academic Year 2017-18.
    • Six weeks into the 2018-19 Academic Year, over 1000 new students – roughly a third the number projected for the year – had already downloaded the App and started using it.
  • User Engagement:
    • Earn Actions: Users are taking an average of 7000 PIPs-Earn actions a month, including but not limited to riding the bus, biking, refilling water bottles, recycling, volunteering, joining in fitness classes, and participating in games and challenges.
    • During the pilot, students redeemed about 60% of their PIPs they’d earned, and received over $10,000 in cash value in the form of gift cards and discounts on local and organic food; healthy personal care products; responsibly made clothing and gear; fitness classes; downloads (music, e-books); used books; shared services, etc.
  • Impact:
    • During the course of the pilot, student engagement in just 5 actions (biking, recycling, riding the bus, carpooling and refilling water bottles) eliminated over 16,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions.
    • CU received American Association of Sustainabiity in Higher Education (AASHE) Innovation Credits by implementing the PIPs app on campus, helping them achieve STARS Gold Rating status.

Two new App features launched in fall 2018

Responding to customers’ needs and objectives, 3P has added two new features to the PIPs Rewards App:

  • The Carbon Drawdown: It is now possible using the PIPs App for one or more institutions to compete in a fun, easy-to-play inter- or intra-campus race to see who can reduce their carbon footprint the most. Players engage in five or more everyday actions that help to drawdown the institution’s overall carbon footprint – including the basics: riding the bus, biking, carpooling, refilling water bottles and recycling. Their actions and their corresponding CO2 savings are tracked, aggregated and displayed in the individual and team leaderboards, so players can see in real time how they are stacking up against each other.
  • PIPs for School: The PIPs Rewards platform has a new use option for students. It is now possible for students to direct their well-earned PIPs toward school-related expenses (tuition, loan-repayment, enrollment fees, etc.). Students who do so will be able unlock matching funds provided by a new public foundation, the PIPs Education Fund.

Such valued rewards may increase the App’s stickiness still more than what’s happened thus far. With the access to education gap only getting worse, and as little as $1,000 in debt enough to force a student to drop out, innovative platforms like PIPs Rewards could help students bridge the gap through engagement in purposeful behavior.

To learn more, please contact


Wendy Gordon

Co-founder and CEO of 3P Partners, Inc a Certified B Corp in the ‘impact tech’ space. Wendy co-founded and Mothers & Others with Meryl Streep and originated the Green Guide. She has co-authored...

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