Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

The Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee closed its second-round applications last Thursday night, marking the end of another funding session in the committee’s $350,000 annual budget.

UOFC director Jad Bataha ’24 said that the committee exists “in parallel” to the Yale College Council. Bataha said he works with a team of 15 finance managers to run the application process, which entails two separate funding rounds each semester. UOFC funding comes “primarily” from the Yale College Dean’s Office, according to Bataha, and is designed to support student organizations’ on-campus events and activities. The second-round funding application closed at midnight on Oct. 28 and Bataha said the committee planned to review applications this past weekend and release decisions early this week.

“Right now, organizations are all very optimistic about getting a lot of money, and people will be disappointed, but we try to give all clubs essentially similar amounts of money,” Bataha said.

In the first round of funding applications, which took place in mid-September, more than 200 student organizations submitted applications, Bataha said. Of those, the committee approved partial funding for roughly 175 groups, granting full funding to between 20 and 30 groups.

The committee has several criteria it considers when reading applications. Committee members look for applications that are specific, stating exactly what purpose the requested funding will serve. According to Bataha, specificity is critical to ensuring equitable allocation of funding across the student body. Ideally, groups will request money for activities directly involving Yale’s campus Bataha said that at minimum, the activity must include the entirety of the organization, rather than just a segment of it.

“The executive board of the cheese club shouldn’t be going to dinner at Barcelona, as opposed to everybody being involved, and doing an event for everyone,” Bataha explained.

According to Bataha, the UOFC tries to standardize how much funding an organization receives based on the category of club it falls under: for example, the committee tends to award publications similar amounts of money. The size of the award also correlates to the organization’s scale, Bataha said. He said that the committee also considers whether organizations are revenue-generating like publications and factors that into the award.

The committee approves funding by round so while student groups have the agency to decide whether to list the semester’s worth of events or just a portion on their application, the committee will only fund those events happening up until the next round of funding, when groups may apply again.

Ethan Dong ’24, treasurer of Code Haven, said that the organization has applied for UOFC funding annually since at least 2018.

Dong described his experience with the application process as “fairly straightforward” and “well-organized,” labeling the application itself “fairly intuitive to navigate.” 

According to Dong, the UOFC funding is “generous” and constitutes a significant portion of Code Haven’s income. Code Haven tends to use UOFC funding to support community outreach efforts, Dong said. He also noted that the reimbursement process for UOFC-approved club expenses was “fairly quick.”

UOFC money has helped Code Haven fund the group’s food budget and mentor-mentee meeting supplies, Dong added. The money also supports some of Code Haven’s larger-scale events, such as Demo Day, when club members give campus tours to middle-school students and help them envision a future in computer science. Code Haven also hosts an event called Teach Tech that coordinates speaker events, seminars and networking opportunities for New Haven-area educators UOFC funding supports this event, too, Dong said. 

Dong added that he believes the money UOFC currently awards Code Haven is adequate, and added that many of Code Haven’s events are still virtual because of the pandemic, which has kept costs lower. He also noted that the organization also accesses funding through Dwight Hall and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. 

Stefy Grau ’22, former business manager of a cappella group Out of the Blue (OOTB) and current member of senior group Whim ’n Rhythm, applied for UOFC funding in her sophomore year when serving as the OOTB business manager. The first time Grau applied, she received $200, a fifth of the funding requested in her application. She said that money helped cover costs associated with putting on concerts, such as renting out performance spaces and hiring audio engineers and videographers. 

According to Grau, the second time she applied she submitted a virtually identical application, but received $70, which “was not even enough for a pizza dinner for the 25 of us in the group.” After that round, OOTB stopped seeking UOFC funding.

“We realized that it’s not a make-or-break amount, and at the end of the day, we do still have our own budget that’s funded largely through alumni [donations], tickets from concerts and stuff that’s been passed down throughout the years,” Grau said. “We realized it wasn’t going to make a huge difference. It’s helpful, but honestly, going through the hurdle of applying and then not hearing back for a while and not knowing how much you’re going to get it’s just not something that is worth factoring into your budget.”

In the spring semester, in addition to the two traditional funding rounds, there will be a collaboration round, in which groups can submit joint applications for funding to host events together.

New this round, the committee made information sessions mandatory for student groups hoping to apply for second-round funding. Bataha said he made the change after noticing during first-round application reviews that some organizations seemed unclear about what types of expenses UOFC funds. According to the YCC’s website, information sessions took place between Oct. 18 and Oct. 28. 

After the committee releases funding decisions, Bataha sends those results to the College’s Office of Business Operations, which works with Treasury Services to coordinate the retrieval of approved funds. Groups must submit receipts for all UOFC-funded expenses, Bataha said, and those receipts must be submitted before an organization may apply to the next funding round. Groups that fail to submit receipts are banned from accessing funding for a year. 

While funds are currently cash only, Bataha said he’s hoping to digitize the process.

Before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bataha said, the committee was less standardized, hosting up to five funding rounds per semester. Bataha’s goals for the year are to standardize the application process and to create a record of the UOFC’s “institutional memory.” Grau concurred that the committee could benefit from more institutional knowledge. 

“I feel like every time the leadership transitions, there’s a lot of discrepancies in terms of how much of the budget is given,” Grau said.

Among the measures Bataha is taking to achieve those goals are the release of an executive summary after each funding round and the creation of a personal timeline of his activities as director.

 The UOFC funding appeals process will open on Nov. 2.

Olivia Tucker covered student policy & affairs as a beat reporter in 2021-22. She previously served as an associate editor of the Yale Daily News Magazine and covered gender equity and diversity. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a senior in Davenport College majoring in English.