project screenshot 1
project screenshot 2
project screenshot 3


PennyDAO creates a marketplace for impact NFTs that reduce student debt with Ethereum. Where our community collects stories of personal impact they make with CHANGE.


Created At

Scaling Ethereum

Project Description

PennyDAO’s purpose is to address the following design statement:

“How might we increase equitable access by reducing the financial cost of obtaining a degree from institutions of higher education in America, for individuals who would have to acquire a private loan to afford the cost of attendance, so that the net financial cost of acquiring a degree is minimized throughout their lifetime?”

We have built a decentralized application built on the Ethereum blockchain for students and purpose-aligned stakeholders to create a shared story of reducing the inequalities and financial cost of obtaining a college or university degree. We believe that a portal for honest impact made possible with the innovation and values of Ethereum would scale Ethereum by connecting its utility with an issue folks care about.

The decentralized application is open source, scalable and leverages smart contracts to:

  • Efficiently manage principal capital provided by stakeholders in high-yield decentralized finance strategies to generate a stream of sustainable funding for DAO-determined activities;
  • Provide a streamlined way for stakeholders to assess and vote on student applications to distribute community funds; and
  • Establishes Proof of Impact as a non-fungible token, where stories of personal impact are collected by stakeholders as immutable, verifiable and permanent expressions of their change.

Here’s how it works: ‌ CHANGE-makers bond some amount of principal capital (currently $DAI) for our platform-participation token, $CHANGE. Principal capital earns interest in decentralized finance strategies which is diverted to a community fund. $CHANGE is minted at a ratio of 1 $DAI to 100 $CHANGE; a non-transferable token used to redeem upon expiration of the bonding period.

Students create a profile story asking our community for support. Students are encouraged to create a short personal appeal video, upload a profile photo, attach links to their social media accounts, and share some information about their education. PennyDAO determines eligibility and if approved, puts it up for a vote by the community. ‌ CHANGE-makers vote on each story in proportion to their contribution. And when it's approved, funds are distributed from the community fund to the student's Ethereum-enabled wallet, or to an Ethereum address on an exchange, like Gemini or Coinbase.

PennyDAO is a zero fee platform; and does not collect fees. It’s protocol-level participation token, $CHANGE, is non-transferrable. PennyDAO’s community determines all allocations and distributions of funds elevating the principles of transparency and accountability.

For more details please see

How it's Made

PennyDAO is a decentralized application built on Ethereum. Using Solidity 0.8.0 to write the contracts, React.js to create the user interface to the smart contracts and Brownie for testing. Google Firebase and Google Firestore for authentication and off-chain data storage.

Using Solidity, PennyDAO smart contracts are built using ERC-20 and ERC-721 core functionalities. OpenZeppelin (OpenZep) is a trusted entity throughout all smart contract development and $CHANGE is an OpenZep ERC-20 and our student app NFTs are OpenZep ERC-721.

There are two user categories, students and CHANGE-makers. The students will have ERC-721 NFTs minted as an application to participate within PennyDAO. These NFTs will be processed and placed in a voting queue. Pending approval, the students will then have access to grants distributed by PennyDAO.

CHANGE-makers will deposit DAI into the PennyDAO fund and $CHANGE token will be minted. The DAI is then deposited into a yielding strategy (Alchemix) and PennyDAO will have access to an advanced yield loan. We have created an ERC-20 token ($CHANGE) that only holds a 100:1 value to DAI stablecoin and can only be used as voting rights within the PennyDAO ecosystem. Within the voting function, PennyDAO is actively tracking $CHANGE balances and NFT applications, creating voting periods and internally calculating the voting weight of each voter. The vote will conclude after a predetermined time frame and approved applications will be marked as such.

Both contracts are connected through the voting mechanism. Once the NFT application is approved, the student that owns that NFT will then have the proper authorization to access the grant.

PennyDAO has created a website that connects the users within the ecosystem. The website is a portal for students to submit applications and accept financial support and CHANGE-makers to deposit DAI stablecoin, receive $CHANGE, and participate in the voting process. The website is connected to the smart contract using React.

We have developed a marketing campaign using Ethereum Name Services (ENS) - PennyDAO.eth to provide a clear call to action for our community to support this project. While we were unable to incorporate scaling solutions into our MVP, we have been working with several scaling partners and sponsors and have detailed out our prioritized technical roadmap. (See

We are proud of how the team came together to realize this vision. The PennyDao team members did not know each other prior to this hackathon and we had to pivot quickly when one team member had to exit the hackathon due to personal commitments. We believe that scaling Ethereum means a combination of addressing a problem that impacts all of us, leading with purpose and innovative technology, and ultimately the experience and impact we can have on our community of students and change-makers. This is a good start and we are excited to collaborate with the Ethereum ecosystem to bring it to life.

For more details please see

background image mobile

Join the mailing list

Get the latest news and updates