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Local organizations collaborate with Stanford with seed awards from the Office of Community Engagement

The awards encourage collaborations that bring communities together to identify issues that Stanford faculty, staff, and research can help address. This year’s projects will apply research and education on multiple fronts, from housing to indigenous land stewardship to health disparity.

The Office of Community Engagement’s 2023 seed fund awards, announced today, support collaborations where Stanford is working with community organizations to make a difference on critical issues.

The ball carrier for the flag football team Discovery moves to evade a defender from the Santa Clara County team at the 2022 Fall Games in Davis, hosted last November by Special Olympics Northern California. Two events are proposed as part of the collaboration between Stanford and the Northern California Special Olympics program. (Image credit: Special Olympics Northern California)

The awards, now in their third year, further collaborations between the university and the many communities it touches. Some 19 units on campus will receive funding to support their work – from housing to indigenous land stewardship to health disparity.

“These projects are central to the university’s values that are articulated in the Stanford Vision,” said Martin Shell, vice president and chief external relations officer. “Across our region, dedicated people are working every day, in myriad ways, to make lives better and improve conditions in our communities. These grants are an especially meaningful way that Stanford works to be a good neighbor, connecting those who are hands-on with the research and expertise that can make a difference.”

The geographical reach of the awards expanded in 2023. Funded projects now span several Bay Area counties and stretch into the San Joaquin Valley, where families are advocating for nutritious meals in local school districts. Black farmers from the outer reaches of the Bay Area to the Central Valley are collaborating with Stanford’s Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) and the non-profit Farms to Grow, Inc. to make the leap from selling at local farmers markets to larger-scale distribution to institutions like universities.

This year’s projects involve four of the university’s seven schools: Graduate School of Education (GSE), Humanities and Sciences, School of Engineering, and School of Medicine. Staff-led projects come from four units: Lands, Buildings & Real Estate, Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE), Office of the Vice President for the Arts, and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

The awards encourage collaborations that bring communities together to identify a central problem that Stanford people and programs can help address.

For example, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has been working with Stanford Professor Jelena Obradović since 2017 on multiple early childhood education research initiatives. The seed award will allow them to collaborate on a new research project examining the longitudinal outcomes of the district’s Shoestrings Program. It applies social-emotional, academic, and wrap-around support that seeks to prevent Black students from disproportionately experiencing exclusionary discipline and being referred to special education as early as kindergarten, practices observed by educators as a product of institutionalized racism. “We hope that the research will help us document the Shoestrings Program so other school sites in SFUSD and other school districts … can start similar programs and better support Black students,” wrote representatives of the SFUSD in their support letter.

OCE was established in March 2020 to help build community on and off campus by engaging Stanford people and programs. Two years of OCE seed funding aimed at helping find solutions to community-identified problems generated momentum that led to the largest number of applicants and projects supported, which were chosen by a university selection committee for 2023.

“This year’s projects are an incredible subset of the work that goes on every day in Stanford’s 135 community engagement hubs across schools and units,” said Megan Swezey Fogarty, senior associate vice president of OCE. “Through collaboration with diverse groups, on different fronts, Stanford research and expertise is harnessed to make advancements for our common good.”

Past recipients have cited the ability to quickly deploy Stanford research through the seed funds and provide resources for time-bound projects that have direct impact.

For a full list and descriptions of the projects receiving 2023 seed funds, see the OCE website.