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Social Impact Grants


The Haas Center awards Social Impact Grants to support undergraduate students addressing social issues through one of the Pathways of Public Service. Students may apply for grants ranging from $200 to $6,500. Proposals that demonstrate carefully thought out budgets and alignment with the Haas Center’s Mission and Principles of Ethical and Effective Service will be considered.

The Social Impact Grants are made possible by the Catherine H. Milton Fund for Student Innovation in Public Service, the Ahonen-Jover Innovations in Human Rights Fund, and Phone2Action.

Selection Criteria

  • Inspiration: The student(s), the project, and the project’s potential to ignite action in others, gives people hope for the future.
  • Impact: The student(s) and the project will have a positive impact on an important social need.
  • Innovation: The project may be a new program/venture/idea, or it may be an adaptation of an existing program/venture/idea that expands or enhances impact in meaningful ways.
  • Feasibility: The proposal can be completed as described.
  • Sustainability: The project has potential to have a lasting impact on an important social problem and, if applicable, to be sustained over time. This is a measure of both the person (do they have a long term vision and commitment?) and the project (will it have lasting value?). Where appropriate, the project may be able to expand/scale to other college campuses or communities.
  • Impact of grant: This grant is critical to the success/implementation of the project.
  • Academic alignment: The student(s)’ project aligns with their academic study and aspirations.
  • Involvement: The student(s) and the project involve other Stanford students, creating opportunities for others to serve and collaborate.

Students or teams participating in Cardinal Service programs will receive competitive priority.


  • Who: Stanford University undergraduates and co-terms who are in good academic standing. Both individuals and teams are eligible.
  • Location: The proposed activities can take place anywhere.
  • External Partners: Not required, however, if a partner organization or individual is required for completion of the proposal, then evidence of their willingness to partner must be provided prior to allocation of funds (i.e. an email or phone call with the partner).
  • Use of funds: Funds cannot be used for expenses covered by another funding source, and cannot be used for salary. In addition, funds cannot be used to support general operating costs for any student organization (i.e., costs that are normally supported through ASSU and/or other student fees). Funds for travel purposes will be considered if there is a direct connection to the proposed activities and cannot be used for general conferences (e.g. Ashoka or Clinton Global Initiative).

Examples of possible grantees

  • Students ask for funds to organize an on-campus education campaign about needed protections for transgender people.
  • In response to recent natural disasters, a group of students working with campus and community partners seeks funds to improve disaster readiness.
  • Students working with a local municipality ask for funds to create and disseminate a mapping tool for the demarcation of safe routes to elementary schools. 
  • Working with a nonprofit in San Francisco, a student seeks funds to pilot a replication of the successful East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring program.
  • A student team working with an NGO in Guatemala as part of the Engineering for Good course (Electrical Engineering 46) needs funds to build and deploy a prototype of a power meter designed to analyze the output of an innovative pico-hydroelectric generator used in rural areas of developing countries.

Application and Award Process

Apply here. The application deadline is Monday, October 28, 2019 at 11:59pm.

Applicants may be required to answer questions about their proposals in person the week of November 12, 2019. Award decisions will be made by November 22, 2019.

All Social Impact Grant recipients will be required to:

  1. attend an orientation session on the Ethical and Effective Service Principles
  2. attend the International Preparation Workshop, if students are using funds overseas
  3. use all Social Impact Grant funds by end of summer
  4. attend a reflection session following their service
  5. submit a final report describing the impact of their work and learnings from the experience

When necessary, Social Impact Grant recipients will be paired with a faculty, staff, or community advisor.

If you have questions, please email Eden Mekonen.


Catherine H. Milton Fund for Student Innovation in Public Service

The Catherine H. Milton Fund for Student Innovation in Public Service acknowledges the visionary leadership of the founding director of the Haas Center for Public Service and builds upon the Haas Center's 25-year history of nurturing and incubating student innovation and entrepreneurial action. The Fund supports students who emulate Catherine Milton's qualities of persistence, vision, teamwork, and passion, and it aligns with the Center's strategic goal of "inspiring and supporting student leadership, collaboration, innovation, and discovery, and providing the tools for students to leverage their Stanford experience for positive public impact."