Cardinal Free Clinics Program Description and Funding Needs

MISSION: The mission of the Cardinal Free Clinics is to provide culturally appropriate high quality transitional medical care for an underserved patient population and to educate and empower a new generation of health care leaders to proactively address health disparities and improve access to care in their communities.

SERVICES: The clinics provide quality transitional medical care to over 1200 low income, uninsured populations annually.  CFC maintains two clinic sites: Arbor Free in Menlo Park, and Pacific Free in East San Jose. Specialty care services, such as dermatology, optometry, basic mental health, cardiology, women’s health, and hepatitis B services are also provided.

STAFFING: The clinics maintain 4 medical directors, 121 volunteer physicians, and over 200 student volunteers and a half-time administrative director. Additionally, four skill-based courses are offered to provide students the opportunity to serve specific clinic roles, such as student mangers, health education, and interpreters. 

OUR ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY: While much of Silicon Valley has seen economic growth, the widening income disparity has made it extremely difficult for the working poor to access health care.  Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen many uninsured patients gain access to coverage through Medi-Cal expansion. However, our patient volumes have decreased only slightly over the past 5 years, indicating that the barriers for low-income individuals to access care continue to pose a threat to their health. 

The Cardinal Free Clinics is also one of the only avenues through which medical students who come Stanford with a personal mission to serve and heal people can leave the world of innovation and entrepreneurship and connect with people that keeps them reminded of why they chose a career in medicine.  From their first quarter in medical school, students can begin to understand the art of healing for patients, for themselves, and for the local communities.

Patient Snapshot of an Arbor Free Clinic Patient

A Tongan-speaking woman in her late 30s works as home health aide and makes $11 an hour, but is only able to work 25 hours a week due to childcare needs.  She does not know what health insurance may be available to her, but she has been having difficulty catching her breath when she exerts herself. She walks to Arbor Free Clinic in Menlo Park on a Sunday morning before church and is greeted by enthusiastic Stanford students who helps her with registration, measuring her blood pressure and vital signs, and gathering her medical history. Medical residents and volunteer attending physicians diagnose her with high blood pressure and provide her with a low-cost prescription that can be filled at a local pharmacy for only $4 and provided with a free flu shot. A student trained in health education works with her to identify ways that she can lower her blood pressure through changes in her diet or physical activity and another student helps her evaluate her insurance options and connects her to an enrollment counselor. She is provided with a referral to a local community health center where she can receive ongoing medical care. She is grateful for all the services she received.

Your donation will support:

  • Operational equipment and supplies
  • Student conference participation
  • Educational initiatives for students
  • Community outreach efforts


Stanford School of Medicine’s Cardinal Free Clinics are the safety net to the safety net.

Philanthropic support allows the Cardinal Free Clinics to provide a wide range of health services to individuals in the community who would otherwise not have access to medical care. Every gift truly does make a difference in our community! As Stanford University School of Medicine clinic, all gifts to the Cardinal Free Clinics are tax-deductible.

You may make your gift in one of two ways:


Visit our secure online giving SITE:  

  1. Select "School of Medicine - Other" in the "Further Designation" drop-down menu
  2. Type in "Cardinal Free Clinics" in the "Special Instructions/Other Designation"
  3. Follow the steps to complete your gift


Cardinal Free Clinics
c/o Development Services
PO Box 20466
Stanford, CA 94309-0466

Make your check payable to Stanford University and mail it to the address above. Please include "Cardinal Free Clinics" on your check.

Phone and Email

If you have any questions about making a gift, or would prefer to donate by phone, please contact Medical Center Development at 650.725.2504 or by email at