Since 1984, the Haas Center has encouraged students to provide ethical and effective service to the university's neighboring East Palo Alto (EPA) community. Located only a few miles from Stanford, the majority of EPA residents historically are low-income minorities.

Stanford students and alumni have a long history of engagement in EPA. They have contributed to, and in some cases created, many nonprofit initiatives there, such as the Eastside College Preparatory School, external link and Free at Last, external link . Sharing their academic knowledge, as well as their time, energy, and commitment to social change, Stanford students have learned and grown through reciprocal partnerships with EPA community leaders and residents.

In the spirit of supporting long-term collaboration between Stanford and EPA, the Haas Center began offering the East Palo Alto Social Venture Fellowship in partnership with Philanthropic Ventures Foundation external link in 2005.

The East Palo Alto Social Venture Fellowship is an opportunity for current juniors (and current seniors who will be on campus next year completing a co-term degree). Philanthropic Ventures Foundation external link awards a $10,000 stipend to one or two Stanford students to implement an innovative project that addresses economic, environmental, educational, and/or social needs in East Palo Alto. We encourage projects conceived in concert with existing community-based organizations or governing bodies. The award is primarily be used to fund the project itself, but students may use a portion of it to cover their living expenses (tuition, fees, books, room and board) while carrying out the project. The maximum allowable time to complete the fellowship is 14 months, from June of the year the fellowship is awarded until August of the following year.


This East Palo Alto Social Venture Fellowship offers the recipient a chance to implement a project from planning to completion. To contribute to the success of the recipient's project plan, a variety of special opportunities are offered to him/her. Before beginning the project, the fellow has the opportunity to

  • Meet with Bill Somerville, president of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. external link
  • Work one-on-one with the fellowships program staff to develop a personal learning plan,
    outlining goals and objectives.
  • Participate in fellowships program preparatory workshops.

It is required that the fellow begin his/her project on or before October 1 (during year awarded) and complete it by the end of the summer of the following year.

Other commitments during the year include the following:

  • Meet regularly with Bill Somerville and Haas Center staff to update them on project progress, noting any new directions or challenges.
  • Submit a mid-year educational presentation to the Stanford and EPA communities about the project's purpose and progress.
  • Submit a final report upon completion of the project.
  • Complete a final program evaluation.
  • Correspond with fellowship donor(s) as requested by fellowships program staff.

Eligibility and Selection Process


Currently enrolled Stanford students from all academic disciplines are encouraged to apply. Applicants vary in academic interests, community service involvement, and experience. Projects in any area of public service (e.g. urban planning, public interest law, technology, the environment, education, public policy, economic development, the arts, engineering, public health) will be accepted for review.

Selection Process

This fellowship is intended for an individual whose application, references, and interview demonstrate

  • an innovative and well-designed project idea
  • a commitment to ethical and effective public service
  • a record of project success and the ability to bring the project idea to reality
  • the feasibility, viability and sustainability of the project
  • the need for the project and its potential impact on the community (short and long term)
  • developed communication skills
  • adequate community connections and quality collaboration(s) with members of the EPA community
  • a coherence between the project and the applicant's background and future plans
  • flexibility and willingness to adjust project plans in accordance with community needs
  • prior knowledge of and experience in the East Palo Alto community

Complete applications are screened, finalists interviewed, and fellows selected by a committee with the intention to award fellowships by mid-May. Committee decisions are final.

We strongly encourage students to discuss ideas for projects with staff at the Haas Center well before the application deadline. Developing an independent project and writing a funding proposal takes time, so start the application process early and consult with professors, advisors and community contacts regularly.


Hard copy applications must be delivered to the Haas Center by February 3, 2015, at 5 pm (PST). Please note that the application is not an online form. Late application materials are not accepted.

A complete fellowship application includes the following components:

  1. applicant information (name, mailing and permanent address, email address, faculty advisor, partner organization supervisor)
  2. one-page résumé, including current and past community service endeavors
  3. personal statement (1 or 2 pages, typed, double-spaced) in which you tell us about yourself and your interest in doing a yearlong project in East Palo Alto
  4. project proposal (3 or 4 pages, typed, double-spaced) for a public service project that is to be carried out during your final year at Stanford. Discuss the need for and purpose of the project; provide an action plan/timeline; indicate the mentors/advisors with whom you have discussed your project; and submit a detailed budget (budget may be on a separate page). The proposal is the major focus of the selection process and should reflect thoughtful planning.
  5. evidence (in the form of a letter or letters) of knowledge and support from EPA representative(s) who participates in or supports your project
  6. current official transcript
  7. two letters of recommendation from individuals who are well acquainted with your work (current or former professors, employers, advisors, community members, etc.). One letter should be from an academic reference and the other from a service-related contact.

Contact Information

For more information, contact .