A new initiative for Yale School of Management students makes giving back to the community a breeze.
SOM Gives, formally established last month, will fund student-led projects that contribute to communities worldwide starting this semester. The initiative is run by the school’s Student Government Clubs and Finance Committee, which manages funding for non-academic endeavors on and around the SOM campus. Clubs and Finance Chair Chris Gillings SOM ’16 said SOM Gives aims to remove the financial barriers that can hinder students’ ability to give back to the community.
“The school’s mission is to educate leaders of business and society and we do just that once we’ve graduated,” Gillings said. “But we were feeling pretty silly about not being able to do grassroots, community-driven stuff or being able to support it as a school.”
Students planning a service project can complete an online application with a request for funding, said Li Kehl SOM ’16, the Clubs and Finance Committee member responsible for SOM Gives. Clubs and Finance will then review the application within a matter of days, ensuring a quick turnaround time, Kehl said.
Before the committee approves funding, its members ensure that applicants have conducted background research and contacted the community group they want to work with, Gillings said.
“[It is] obviously required to have already spoken to that group to make sure they clearly want our help,” Gillings said.
To remain accountable for the funding they receive, students will submit photos of their event, along with a summary of their project’s “metrics of impact,” such as hours volunteered or the amount of money raised for an organization, Kehl said.
SOM Gives could feasibly support fund raisers, such as fun runs for non-profit organizations, or a career day for local public school students, Kehl said. The initiative would cover costs for a variety of needs, from providing water to runners to funding transportation and books for New Haven students.
Gillings said the idea for the initiative arose after previous Clubs and Finance chairs recognized that lack of funding was a roadblock to student-led service projects. He said because the SOM Student Government could only fund events hosted by the Student Life Committee or other campus clubs, students looking to lead service projects lacked institutionalized support.
Gillings and Kehl began to structure the initiative over the summer before meeting with administrators on campus at the beginning of this fall, Kehl said.
The official launch of the initiative in early October included an “ideation session” hosted by the Design+Innovation Club, according to Andrea Mak SOM ’16, a co-leader of the club. Mak said that the ideation session allowed participants brainstorm ideas for SOM students to overcome obstacles that hinder them from volunteering in their communities.
According to Mak, projects supported by SOM Gives could target locations around the globe, from the Elm City to developing countries.
Gillings said that the initiative has drawn students from interests that are not traditionally associated with nonprofit work, such as investment banking.
“The student body has shown a real desire to give back to the community,” Gillings said. “It shows we’re not purely focused on bottom line — we also give regard to broader society.”
Funding for SOM Gives projects will typically be several hundred dollars, according to the SOM Gives website.