“Hope for a Positive Future:” PIPs for School Scholars Sets Students Up for Success

As the pilot year of the PIPs for School (P4S) Scholars program, hosted by RIVER FUND NY, the poverty-fighting Community Based Organization (CBO) in Queens, wraps up, and we ready ourselves to triple the number of Host Partners and students in the program, we’re pausing to take stock of how the year went for our first class of Scholars, what they learned and were able to accomplish.

Taking the broad view, Kevin P., a biology student at City College of New York, says P4S Scholars is about more than earning money for school. “It’s about developing and growing as a person, about being more open, being more aware that there are problems in the world and [that] we have the power to change things.”

The program, he goes on, has offered him “hope for a positive future, for the youth who are growing up right now, that they can have some positivity within them” and reach out to help others, help their community.

Describing the day-to-day PIPs experience, Dawn L., a nursing student in Brooklyn and a dedicated volunteer, extols PIPs as “eye-opening…a fun intuitive way to become more mentally aware of my actions.” She values being a P4S Scholar and the cycle of good it encourages.

Chrisber V. agrees. Having just finished high school and planning to study mechanical engineering in college, Chrisber recalls his surprise seeing his PIPs dashboard and “the amount of CO2 reduced by me just walking. It’s crazy. It really makes you more conscious of [how] the simple decisions in life really affect the rest of us.”

P4S Scholars at RIVER FUND were encouraged to take a range of actions benefiting personal health and wellness, the environment, and the community. Actions ranged from walking, biking, and taking the bus to volunteering, completing a shift at work, or engaging in a tutoring session, as either the tutor or the one being tutored. One could even earn for completing a social and emotional learning module PIPs were earned each time an action was completed.

Over the course of the year, Scholars took almost 10,000 Actions and will earn a total of 2.3M PIPs. PIPs’ core actions include several that help reduce carbon emissions, a leading cause of climate change. The chart below shows how RIVER FUND Scholars saved over 15,000 pounds of CO2 in a year (equivalent to planting 320 trees) by riding public transit, refilling water bottles rather than buying beverages in single use containers, recycling, biking, walking and offsetting the carbon associated with their online shopping. (Note: The approximate savings per action is determined by multiplying the action’s emissions factor (set by governmental environmental agencies) and the number of times the action was taken).

Beyond helping the environment, RIVER FUND Scholars were encouraged to take actions that serve their community, strengthen their families, and build their personal leadership skills.These actions are displayed in the table here:

The pilot year has shown that the P4S Scholars program not only helps students with financial need to persist in school, but does so by teaching them the power of individual action. In our second year, we’re excited to be working with more partner CBOs and look forward to introducing many more students to the program. With the expansion of P4S Scholars, we’re eager to foster in our students the agency that they need to be the positive change-making leaders of tomorrow.

Mikayla Zeitlin, Communications & Marketing Manager, and Wendy Gordon, President and Founder
PIPs Rewards LLC
July 5, 2022



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PIPs Rewards

Probing behavioral science, PIPs explores questions like: Why reward people for doing things they should do anyway? Learn more: https://pipseducationfund.org/