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Frequently Asked Questions

DGen Office

What is Cardinal Commitment?

Cardinal Commitment is one of four major areas of Stanford’s Cardinal Service initiative. In Cardinal Commitment, individual students receive support to make a sustained service commitment for three or more quarters through signature Stanford programs, student service organizations, or community organizations. Students apply what they are learning to make a difference and be part of a tradition of service at Stanford.

I'm interested in Cardinal Commitment. How do I get started?

  1. Identify a community challenge you want to work on. If you are unsure, stop by the Haas Center to talk with one of our knowledgeable advisors
  2. Visit the Cardinal Commitment opportunities web page to find a registered Cardinal Commitment organization (student group, Stanford program, community organization) that can give you an opportunity to engage with that challenge and that can provide you a Cardinal Commitment mentor (student leader, Stanford faculty/staff, community organization staff) willing to support you and discuss your service experience. Haas Center advisors can help you with the decision, too!
  3. Reflect, using the Pathways of Public Service as a tool, on how best to address the challenge.
  4. Work with your Cardinal Commitment organization and mentor to learn about the Principles of Ethical and Effective Service and how to incorporate what you've learned into your public service work. 

Once I'm ready, what are the steps to make a Cardinal Commitment?

  1. Start by creating a personal mission statement that you submit via the Cardinal Commitment Declare form.
  2. Do the work for at least three quarters, keeping your personal mission statement and the Principles of Ethical and Effective Service in mind, and discussing your experience with your Cardinal Commitment mentor.  Your experience is an opportunity to address a community challenge, critically examine public issues, and explore your civic identity.
  3. When your Commitment draws to a close, Certify your work—affirming that all requirements have been met and reflecting on your experience. 

What are Cardinal Commitment Organizations/Programs?

They are staff-run programs, registered student organizations, or registered community organizations. The Cardinal Commitment team has verified that these organizations and programs can potentially provide an at student an opportunity to make a Cardinal Commitment by providing opportunities to serve, a mentor, and exposure to the Principles of Ethical and Effective Service.  

What is a "registered student organization"?

It's a student organization that's been through the Cardinal Commitment vetting process to become a Cardinal Commitment Organization/Program and can provide students with a service opportunity that will allow them to complete a Cardinal Commitment. 

How does my student organization register as a Cardinal Commitment Organization?

Complete this form and meet with Cardinal Commitment staff to discuss your group. The form and meeting will try to ensure you can provide students with all they need to engage and complete a Cardinal Commitment. Unless there are issues with what you've submitted, that's it! Your group is registered! 

Can non-registered student organizations use resources?

Student organizations that have registered with Cardinal Commitment received priority and can use the resource request systems directly, but a non-registered student organization can work with Haas Center staff to explore whether an exception for a particular program or occasion can be made. 

A student has asked me to serve as their Cardinal Commitment Mentor. What is that and what are my roles and responsibilities if I agree to be their mentor?

A Cardinal Commitment Mentor is a person who is willing to walk with a student on their sustained public service journey, and is a person who has some expertise/knowledge in an area related to a student’s sustained public service.

The student’s journey will consist of three or more quarters of consistent work dedicated to a particular mission and will require their Mentor’s guidance to navigate challenges and reflect on and modify their approach to maximize their potential for positive impact on an issue affecting a community.

Mentor Roles and Responsibilities
A Cardinal Commitment Mentor plays a critical role in a student’s public service journey. Fortunately, however, there are not a lot of specific things that a Mentor needs to do, so the relationship is customizable to the needs of both the Mentor and Mentee.

First, a Mentor should be open to meeting at least quarterly with their mentee to discuss the student’s public service challenges and successes. This can be as simple as have a cup of coffee to ask the student how it’s going, to help the student reflect on their experience, to help the student with little challenges that come up, and celebrate their successes with a pat on the back.

Second, when the student is ready to wrap up their sustained public service, or to “Certify”, the Mentor will be notified and asked to sign off on the students work, telling Cardinal Commitment that, in the Mentor’s opinion, the student has successfully made and completed a Commitment to sustained public service (or that you don’t think the student has done enough).

One other important note for Mentors, the mentor/mentee relationship should be driven by the mentee. Cardinal Commitment doesn’t expect Mentors to take responsibility for organizing the meetings or communicating information about the Commitment. That is all a part of the students’ responsibilities making a Cardinal Commitment. Additionally, the Cardinal Commitment Team is here to provide support to both Mentors and Mentees.


Do you have a question that's not answered here? Contact Kelly Beck.