Net Impact’s Penny Wars where losers win

Created in 2011, the UWT Net Impact undergrad chapter Registered Student Organization (RSO) was the first undergrad chapter to be formed in the Northwest region. The group placed second in the 2012 Net Impact national competition, “Small Steps, Big Wins” on December 10.

From, “Net Impact is a community of more than 30,000 change-makers using our jobs to tackle the world’s toughest problems, demonstrating that it’s possible to make a net impact that benefits not just the bottom line – but people and planet, too.”

“The national organization was created by a group of MBA students 20 years ago,” said Professor Joe Lawless, director of the Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility at UWT’s Milgard School of Business.

Lawless serves as the faculty advisor for the RSO and recently expressed his disappointment with the argument in Washington D.C. which allows large banks and large oil companies to internalize profits while they externalize costs. Lawless explained that the externalized expenses such as banker bailouts and toxic waste clean-ups are generally paid for by the U.S. tax-payers.

Lawless also lamented the behavior of large U.S. pharmaceutical corporations which receive tax-payer-funded research and development to concoct new drugs, while charging much higher prices to U.S. citizens than they charge for the same drugs outside of the country. Lawless works locally with future leaders who are taking steps toward creating a different argument in D.C., one of ethical business practices and long-term sustainability.

“The ‘Small Steps, Big Wins’ competition encourages sustainable practices by rewarding students with points for taking steps like ditching their car for a week,” said Marketing V.P. of Net Impact Patrick Miles, a senior and business major. “The competition will start again on January 21 when all groups’ points are reset to zero for a level playing field,” said Miles of the upcoming 2013, nationwide “Small Steps, Big Wins” competition.

UWT’s Net Impact is also planning a new fundraising contest with a twist. Beginning January 28, five-gallon transparent water jugs will be used on-campus to raise funds through the “Penny Wars” competition.

“Pennies are a positive vote for your club of choice and silver coins or paper money are negative votes,” said Robert Saylor, junior and accounting major in charge of planning the “Penny Wars” event.

Each participating group or organization at UWT will select its favorite local non-profit organization which will benefit not only with funding; they will also receive at least one student-volunteer from each competing group as part of a work-crew for their own purposes. If Net Impact wins, their funds raised and a slew of volunteers will go to help the local Boys and Girls Club.

When the wars are over, the group with the most pennies subtracted by the fewest silver coins and paper dollars wins. In this war, the winner will command many volunteers to help at their chosen local non-profit while all of the losers will have raised more funding than the winner for their own group’s organization.

“The Boys and Girls Club intends to use their winnings to advance their STEM program, science, technology, engineering and math education,” said Miles.

According to, STEM jobs have outpaced non-STEM jobs during the past ten years throughout Washington State by three to one.