The Yale College Council approved a new funding initiative last week that aims to finance student projects focused on community building and inclusivity.
The New Ideas Fund was proposed last month by Pierson YCC Representative Julia Feldstein ’18 and YCC Student Life Policy Director Nick Zevallos ’19 and has already been added to the YCC’s budget for this academic year with $6,600 in funding. The fund’s central aim is to provide an avenue for students to present and possibly receive funding to develop their ideas.
“This year, I’m hoping for students to take advantage of this opportunity to fund their ideas … new ideas are constantly floating around Yale, and often the major deterrent is finding funding,” said Zevallos. “The New Ideas Fund directly addresses this issue and will allow the YCC to utilize its budget to support student ideas aimed at creating a stronger community.”
YCC President Peter Huang ’18 said the YCC will release a New Ideas Fund application to the student body in the next few weeks.
According to YCC Chief of Staff Sydney Wade ’18, YCC members noticed last month a surplus in the Community Fund part of the concurrent budget. The Community Fund supports all the freshman, sophomore and junior class councils, as well as the Yale Society Initiative, an organization of students and alumni that seeks to reform Yale’s senior societies.
Zevallos and Feldstein began discussing other possible allocations for the surplus and decided to put the money toward the furtherance of new student ideas that could benefit the wider Yale community. Zevallos formally proposed the New Ideas Fund to the YCC Council of Representatives, which then approved it through a vote.
In addition to Zevallos and Feldstein, the New Ideas Fund has been shaped by Steve Blum, strategic initiatives director of the Yale Alumni Association, former YCC president Brandon Levin ’14 and by other YCC members on the executive board.
Zevallos said the money for the New Ideas Fund is not coming directly from the budget surplus but is simply a repurposing of funds usually designated for the Community Fund. Looking forward, Zevallos said he expects the fund to be a permanent part of the YCC and its annual budget.
“We are particularly looking for new events and programming that focus on inclusivity and community,” Wade said. “We want to support events and programming that bring different campus communities together. The applications will be evaluated by a panel of YCC members who specifically applied to be on the panel, and the panel will choose the applications that stand above others for strengthening inclusion and diversity on Yale’s campus.”
The New Ideas Fund Review Committee will solicit undergraduate ideas and present these ideas to the YCC Representatives Council, which will then vote to fund a selection of the ideas. Throughout the rest of the semester, the New Ideas Fund Review Committee will support students as they see their ideas come to fruition.
Zevallos is currently the driving force behind developing and implementing the new fund, Wade said. However, Wade continued, once a “New Ideas Fund Panel” has been formed, someone else may become the main organizer.
Still, the fund presents some logistical challenges. YCC Vice-President Christopher Bowman ’18 said the main challenge will be ensuring an effective distribution of funds to all YCC-approved student ideas.
Zevallos noted that ideally, the fund would provide between $1,000 to $1,500 per approved proposal, and coverage could include ideas beyond holding events.
Bowman highlighted that the YCC has a limited amount of money for the fund, so not all ideas can be funded. Bowman added that these projects are ideally different from those of existing extracurriculars, which already receive funding from the University Organizations Committee.
“Our panel of representatives that oversees the fund will have to prudently determine where the money can be best placed,” said Bowman. “However, we’re also going to try to focus on initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, which will give us a bit of a clearer direction to go in for distributing funds.”
According to Yale’s website, there are over 500 active student organizations on campus.