Stanford strengthens commitment to public service

Cardinal Service
A Stanford student works with a boy at the Ravenswood Reads program sponsored by Haas Center for Public Service.

“The summer after my freshman year, I found myself crushed into a taxi with five other people, heading to my first day of work in Congo Town, Liberia. That morning, it rained in torrents, and the roadside markets were eerily empty: the plantains packed up, the vendors hiding under umbrellas. Approaching the Hope Community Center, I worried that no one would turn up for the workshop. I was wrong. By 10 a.m., 15 girls with damp clothes had trickled into the classroom. As a group, we decided on a name for our collective, and I wrote it on the chalkboard: ‘Story Society.'”

This reflection, from Gillie Collins, who graduated from Stanford in 2015, is one of hundreds from students participating in service across the globe every summer.

This year, Stanford launches a university-wide initiative to elevate and expand service. Cardinal Service is catalyzed by the Haas Center for Public Service with support from the offices of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

The initiative focuses on four dimensions that have proven over the years to be transformational in the lives of Stanford students: Cardinal Quarter, Cardinal Courses, Cardinal Commitment and Cardinal Careers.

Cardinal Quarter provides opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in full-time, quarter-long public service experiences with support from the university. Cardinal Quarter opportunities are offered through 14 partners across campus, including Stanford in Washington, Community Service Work-Study and the student organization, Stanford in Government.

Cardinal Quarter provides funding to cover living and other expenses for students in fellowships and internships, so that all students, regardless of their financial circumstances, can take advantage of service opportunities. Cardinal Service will increase the number of these fellowships and internships to 500 by 2020, up from 350 today.

Over this past summer, Stanford students engaged in local, national and international Cardinal Quarter opportunities. They included a fellowship with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Corporate Social Responsibility team, internships in Washington, D.C. with the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Department of State, and a fellowship with WhizzKids United, a South African organization that combines soccer and HIV and AIDS education.

Cardinal Courses engage students in projects and partnerships with the broader community to address social or environmental challenges. There are already more than 75 Cardinal Courses offered in more than 25 departments and programs. While the projects in these courses vary, all provide opportunities for students to examine a public issue and explore their civic identities. Over the next five years, Cardinal Service will double the number of Cardinal Courses to more than 150.

Cardinal Commitment encourages students to “declare a major and a mission” and dedicate themselves to service as part of their Stanford experience. Students can take leadership roles in more than 125 student service organizations on campus; participate in tutoring and mentoring programs based on the pedagogy of leading education experts at Stanford; make a yearlong commitment to a particular issue as a Service Scholar in Branner Hall, an upperclassmen dorm with a public service theme; or participate in one of Stanford’s other service programs.

Cardinal Careers is based on the tenet that service can be integrated into any career. This dimension of Cardinal Service encourages undergraduate and graduate students to pursue work in the public interest. The Haas Center will work with Bridging Education, Ambition and Meaningful Work (BEAM) to create recruiting and networking events such as a signature social impact recruiting fair in the fall and a City Manager in Residence program in the spring. As part of using technology to connect and support students as they explore internship and career opportunities, the Cardinal Service website includes a database of more than 500 fellowships, internships and service programs.

Read the entire Stanford Report article on Cardinal Service.