Backyard, a Cornell program that assists students with extracurricular projects, was launched at eHub on Feb. 23.
Tina He ’19 and Maya Frai ’20 founded Backyard to help other Cornell students jumpstart their projects and provide guidance along the way. The six-week long program, which requires an application, helps students with side-projects by helping them organize and find resources to create a concrete plan.
“Think of it as a side-project incubator that helps people discover their passion, one that helps your personal and professional growth, that could also bring an impact,” He said.
Having taken on side projects on their own, He and Frai discussed how people often have interests outside of their curricular and extracurricular activities.
“We all have the internal passion that’s not being fulfilled by a lot of things — including classes and clubs — what I have been passionate about is education, and Backyard is now my side project,” He said.
The first three weeks in the program are focused on idealizing, exploring and becoming educated on the idea that the student brings to the table.
“Literally the best resources are all online and a lot of people just need a methodology to use those resources,” He said.
During the final three weeks of the program, students develop their ideas into actionable tasks.
Frai and He explained to the audience that their vision is to bring a positive social impact to the Cornell community and beyond. They want to achieve this through the projects that come through Backyard.
“There are a lot of struggles … we have the responsibility to share the broader purpose, and we want Backyard to address that,” He said.
Backyard also puts emphasis on students being a part of a community, in addition to obtaining project experience and guidance.
“We are students, we are all in this together and you are more welcomed to share like a community,” He said. “We are not an incubator, we are here to make something happen, as small as helping someone to start a blog.”
Backyard, according to co-founder Frai, has space to grow beyond eHub. Frai and He hope to see Backyard gain a greater presence online and expand well beyond Cornell’s campus to other universities.
The program has received over 45 project idea submissions including app development, entertainment content creation and music licensing, according to Frai.
“A lot of this is building up emotional support and emotional confidence,” Frai said. “I feel like a lot of students with all these unimplemented ideas are unfulfilled even after joining clubs, and that’s part of the reason I started Backyard.”