Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 74.63
Liaison Sam Lubow
Submission Date July 30, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Stanford University
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “supportive”?:

A brief description of the institution’s supportive sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Stanford partners with Canopy, a non-profit organization based in Palo Alto that is dedicated to protecting and growing the urban forest in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and neighboring communities. With a shared goal to expand the urban forest, Canopy has provided countless Stanford students, staff, and alumni with the volunteering opportunity to plant trees and improve our local environment through its Healthy Trees, Healthy Kids! Program, among many others.

Community Environmental Action Partnership:
The City of Palo Alto and community groups created the Community Environmental Action Partnership (CEAP) in 2008 in accordance with the recommendations made by the City’s Green Ribbon Task Force and the Climate Protection Plan. CEAP's mission is to bring the various segments of the community together to share knowledge, build mutual understanding, leverage resources, and both create and implement innovative environmental solutions. CEAP goals include: identify and implement top-priority environmental initiatives with measurable objectives; educate and engage each segment of the community in environmental initiatives that fit their needs; create a vehicle for communication, education and awareness among the City and all segments of the community; leverage resources and actions among segments by aligning and coordinating efforts; connect with expertise, input and initiatives from the community and beyond to inform, improve and inspire innovative ideas and programs; and track and report progress toward objectives to the community.

The community is divided into eight segments and a “liaison” is appointed to each segment. The liaisons, which serve as an Executive Committee, meet monthly to share the accomplishments of the work done by the segments. Stanford is one of the segments and a liaison provides a conduit between the environmental and sustainability efforts of the university and the other CEAP segments.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “collaborative”?:

A brief description of the institution's collaborative sustainability partnership(s):

Sustainable Cities:
Sustainable Cities is a service-learning course offered through Stanford University’s Program on Urban Studies. Students learn and work collaboratively with Bay Area government agencies and community organizations to support their sustainability goals. Experiential learning outside the classroom allows students to serve the local community in achieving a more sustainable future. Sustainable Cities presents students with the opportunity to work hands-on in a professional environment with the close guidance of professional staff and Stanford faculty. Students select projects that fit their personal interests and skill-sets and are matched with other students into project teams. The teams work diligently on the projects over ten weeks, and present their final products to key stakeholders and community members at the conclusion of the class. Some of these projects, such as the Downtown Redwood City Bike Parking Inventory 2010 and the Redwood City Bike Share Assessment have been, or are in the process of being implemented. Past partners include Redwood City 2020, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, How Youth Perceive the Environment (HOPE), and more.

Stanford GOALS Partnership:
Stanford GOALS is a multi-year Stanford Prevention Research Center program to evaluate an innovative, community-based approach to addressing childhood obesity. Stanford’s partners, the Boys and Girls clubs of the Peninsula, Redwood City Police Activities League and Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, identify youth at risk for obesity and engage them in developing healthy lifestyles. Children enrolled in GOALS participate in a health education program or an active intervention, which includes a team sports program, home visits to reduce screen time and improve the home food environment, and primary care provider follow-up. The partnership builds upon existing after school programming and also partners with Stanford Athletics to provide site visits from the Stanford student-athletes, visits to campus for mentoring programs, and on-campus field days. The GOALS partnership seeks to develop best practices to serve community youth and exemplifies the positive, communal nature of a partnership based on social change.

Redwood Environmental Academy of Leadership (REAL)
REAL grew out of a Stanford K-12 Initiative grant called "Ecology: Learning by Doing and Making a Difference." It has grown into a Sequoia Union High School District academy program for environmental science education and stewardship. REAL uses Cordilleras Creek, which runs through the campus of Redwood High School, to engage students in hands-on ecology-based learning, creek restoration and research.

Science in Service:
Science in Service (SIS) is a unique collaboration of Stanford students, science and engineering faculty, service-learning educators, and Peninsula community organizations. The program connects Stanford students to youth in neighboring communities through science mentorship and after-school science programs, providing Stanford students a unique opportunity to learn about and participate in science outreach. SIS brings science content enrichment to children who may not have access to positive and fun science experiences. Participating children benefit both from this academic enrichment and from the mentorship of a college student role model. Stanford participants receive training in key techniques for teaching science through mentorship. Trained students then serve as science mentors to children in after-school programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) and Citizen Schools in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Redwood City, with ongoing support from SIS staff. There are opportunities for Stanford students who are new to science outreach as well as students who have previous teaching experience.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “transformative”?:

A brief description of the institution's transformative sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Searsville Dam and Reservoir Study:
Searsville Dam and Reservoir was built in 1892 by the for-profit Spring Valley Water Company and acquired by Stanford in 1919. The dam, which is structurally sound, provides a source of non-potable water used on campus for landscape irrigation. A faculty and staff committee that includes Stanford scholars who specialize in engineering, environmental science, history and law is studying alternatives for the future of Searsville Dam.

Because of the extent and rate of sedimentation that will lead to the eventual loss of the reservoir and the importance of all of the various hydrologic and natural habitat issues involved, Stanford is conducting an in-depth, expert comprehensive review of all issues and all possible actions related to the dam's future. Stanford believes that only a careful, thoughtful analysis of the complex, intersecting issues will provide a proper road map for the future of this important biological preserve and the species that thrive there.

Steering Committee:
The committee is co-chaired by Jean McCown, Stanford director of community relations, and Chris Field, faculty director of Jasper Ridge and professor of biology and of Environmental Earth system science. The Committee includes prominent faculty: Jeffrey Koseff, co-director of the Woods Institute for the Environment; Pamela Matson, dean of the School of Earth Sciences; Buzz Thompson Jr., professor of natural resources law and co-director of the Woods Institute for the Environment; David Freyberg, professor of civil engineering and hydrology; and Richard White, professor of history. Staff members include senior leadership and specialists in conservation, land use, environmental sustainability and water conservation.

Advisory Group
In 2013 Stanford established an advisory committee of external representatives to provide input to the steering committee's evaluation process. Examples of members of this group include representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Water Resources Control Board and the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority along with more local representation from local governments and non-profits such as Acterra, the Committee for Green Foothills, CalTrout, Santa Clara Audubon, American Rivers and Beyond Searsville Dam, as well as individual community members and neighbors.

The Advisory Group provides input and feedback to the Steering Committee on each phase of the process, including considerations of alternatives.

In relation to broader water conservation and flooding control efforts within the local communities surrounding Stanford, the university works closely with the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (JPA). The JPA is developing a regional comprehensive plan for both the waters that flow into San Francisquito Creek and onto San Francisco Bay (its watershed) and the waters that threaten our communities from the Creek and from Bay tides (our floodplains). Within the context of this plan, the JPA is leading the local effort on four major projects. Working their way upstream from the Bay, they are planning, designing, and soon constructing capital projects to eliminate risk to over 8,400 properties and the need for many of them to pay premiums to the National Flood Insurance Program. Integral to this effort is our work with Caltrans on their project to replace the Highway 101 crossing over the Creek. And while we are designing and implementing local projects without waiting for a federal government solution, we continue to keep open the possibility of federal support through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Another major project includes working with the one of the JPA’s member agencies, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, to analyze what capital improvements are necessary to provide 100-year flood protection for the flood prone reach of San Francisquito Creek upstream of U.S. Highway 101. Creek capacity improvements being analyzed include bridge replacement, channel widening and naturalization, floodwall construction or enhancement, a bypass culvert, and upstream detention facility. It is likely that a suite of these alternatives will be required to address the flooding problem.

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:

Many Stanford researchers work collaboratively with international communities to bring cutting edge research to those who need it most. Below please find four sample partnerships:

The Solar Market Garden Project aims to bring solar-powered drip-irrigation systems to arid regions with endemic food shortages. In partnership with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), which uses solar power to pump irrigation and drinking water in a set of rural villages in northern Benin, West Africa, this Center on Food Security and the Environment-sponsored project is spreading its technology into an increasing number of arid West African villages.

Stanford’s Dhaka Water Project developed a device to disinfect drinking water without relying on electricity or moving parts. The in-line chlorinator is designed for low-income urban areas that rely on shared drinking water points and is currently being distributed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


The re.source project, led by two Civil and Environmental Engineering doctoral students and developed under the guidance of Jenna Davis, associate professor and fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, completed a pilot phase in 2013 in which it tested innovative toilet models and deployed them to 130 households in Haiti. The project started through seed funding through the Woods Institute's Mel Lane Grant Program and was awarded the highest recognition at Sustainable Silicon Valley's Water, Energy, and Smart Technology (WEST) Summit in May 2013.


The Osa and Golfito Initiative through the Woods Institute for the Environment is helping to facilitate the development of a strategy for sustainable human development and environmental stewardship in Costa Rica's ecologically sensitive Osa and Golfito region. Over the past year, INOGO (the program's acronym for its Spanish title) has produced five case studies on key issues in the Osa and Golfito region, including the potential impacts of a proposed hydroelectric dam and a proposed international airport, and the socioeconomic and biological impacts of expanding oil palm plantations.

The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.