Stanford students Ryan Atallah ‘16 and Eric Smalls ‘16 are developing a beta for Cardinal Fund, a crowd-funding platform for Stanford alumni to financially support students’ creative projects, which they plan to launch early in winter quarter.
Emphasizing the creative process of bringing art and technology together, the founding pair envision the platform serving many purposes for students, alumni, the University as a whole and even the surrounding community.
Stanford students inspired to undertake various projects—such as creating a computer science program for girls in local schools or building a thoughtful sculpture in a public place—can pitch their ideas on the Cardinal Fund website. Stanford alumni interested in donating may complete a questionnaire about their interests and time at Stanford.
Atallah and Smalls first plan to manually match alumni to 10 to 15 initial student projects, but eventually they hope to carry out the process algorithmically as the platform grows. In this way, the sophomores hope to give alumni a more satisfying experience when giving money to Stanford.
“Alumni want to see where their money is going,” Smalls said. “It is an exciting thing to see a project come to fruition.”
Atallah added that the validation and support of student projects is a critical facet of their mission.
“If you feel that you have the ability to just go out and create something that is worth creating, then you become willing to just try anything,” Atallah said.
In the long run, as the platform grows, the fundamental premise of the Cardinal Fund will not be limited to alumni and undergraduates.
“It’s not even restricted to Stanford,” Atallah said.
The Cardinal Fund founders also hope that students will undertake endeavors that will promote positive social change. Smalls wants people to get excited about social impact.
“We want to grow that culture,” Smalls said.
Atallah and Smalls are also working to secure a “maker space,” a place on campus where students can be around others who are creating or working on various projects. Smalls is especially enthusiastic about focusing purely on the creative process and endorsing a community of creators at Stanford.
The Cardinal Fund website itself serves as a place where students with similar interests can connect. Atallah and Smalls plan to keep a record of every activity on the site, so students interested in collaborating with peers can find someone with similar interests or ideas.
Students can also find unfinished projects and continue a project another student did not complete.
Contact Hannah Grace at hgrace ‘at’ stanford.edu.