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KHeystone Projects

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KHeystone Projects are year-long, scholar-led collaborations aimed at addressing important regional or global issues. Each autumn quarter, any interested scholar can pitch an idea for a KHeystone Project at the annual Ideas Festival; scholars then form multidisciplinary project teams—sometimes aligned to their field of study, sometimes completely different. 

Throughout the year, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars (KHS) team supports scholars with coaching, funding and mentors, and provides workshops to help teams develop their ideas. In the spring, the KHS community gathers at the KHeystone Project Showcase to hear teams share what they learned and accomplished. Projects may continue for multiple years, and some develop into for profit or nonprofit ventures. Projects have addressed issues such as education inequity, climate change, health care access, economic development, and much more.

Impact of KHeystone Projects

Since the inception of KHeystone Projects  in 2020, scholars have collectively launched more than 50 projects, with nine of those continuing beyond the first year. Nearly all scholars participate in at least one project, with many joining multiple teams. 

KHeystone Projects Within Stanford 

Examples of projects include:

Stanford Housing Equity Project (2022-present): Established as part of Stanford, this student-led initiative connects the resources of universities to community partners in the Bay Area, empowering them to develop programs that advance housing and health equity for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Stanford Native American Graduate Students (SNAGS) (2022-present): Now part of the Stanford Native American Cultural Center, SNAGS supports Native graduate student wellness with facilitated, indigenized, mental health resourcing, community events, and policy advocacy at Stanford.

Through Their Eyes: Documenting Children's Experiences with Illness (2021-present): This project taps into the healing and storytelling power of photography. Scholars partner with pediatric patients and their families at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, working with them to document anything important to them about their experiences. A selection of these photos were installed at the children’s hospital.

Companies and Nonprofits that Started as KHeystone Projects 

For a number of scholars, the time, space, teamwork and support provided by KHS through KHeystone Projects has helped serve as the incubator for an organization with a life beyond Stanford. Examples include: 

Mona: What started as a gifting service to help immigrants distribute their artisanal coffee has turned into a multi-channel platform centered on investing in and showcasing underrepresented entrepreneurs and purpose-driven companies around the world.

Myna: The Myna Mahila Foundation was launched prior to KHS and nurtured as a KHeystone Project. Today Myna is a social enterprise serving millions of women in India by offering products and services to increase women’s agency and decision making power to make them more confident, financially independent and healthy.

Skywalk: Inspired by Iron Man, Star Wars, and their boundless imagination, scholars wanted to bring together exosuits, prosthetics, sensors and augmented reality to create super intuitive prosthetics. Their vision is a reality today in an early-stage company building a wearable interface for AI — the next generation of human computer interaction.

KHS Global Impact Fund 

KHS was founded to cultivate a growing global community of visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders committed to creating positive change in the world. 

John Hennessy with Global Impact Fund recipients Sebastian Espinoza and Briana Mullen

To advance that vision, KHS established the Global Impact Fund, offering one-time grants of up to $100,000 to scholars who have demonstrated a compelling commitment to the greater good by launching a nonprofit designed to improve lives and drive meaningful change. To be eligible for a Global Impact grant, recipients must have launched a nonprofit organization or established a fiscal sponsorship with an existing nonprofit organization that began as a KHeystone Project. Inaugural recipients were:

Education Justice Academy:  Public school board members oversee a large portfolio of responsibility but often lack necessary training. Education Justice Academy (EJA) recruits, trains, and supports school board members to increase educational justice and equity at the district level. Founder Briana Mullen (2020 cohort) is now a Stanford alumni, leading EJA with support from her Global Impact Grant.

Mi Tribu Foundation: Founded by Sebastian Espinoza (2019 cohort) together with his wife Magdalena, the Mi Tribu platform supports low- and middle-income Latin American women through pregnancy, postpartum, and early parenthood. With an eye toward improving the health and well-being of new mothers, Mi Tribu organizes cohorts of women for support while also matching them with health care specialists who can provide them with professional care and guidance.

Read more about the inaugural Global Impact grants