Princeton AlumniCorps was the first college alumni group whose members organized specifically to promote civic engagement in the public interest, starting with their own 1955 graduating class. When Ralph Nader ’55 raised this idea at a 1989 gathering in Washington DC, class members jumped in right away. The late Charlie Bray ’55, a retired diplomat turned foundation president, pressed them to be ambitious. In no time there was a steering committee. Within weeks, Princeton AlumniCorps’ (formerly Princeton Project 55) first program was taking shape.
John Fish, Professor of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and Coordinator for their internship program, began work on the Public Interest Program (PIP), now known as the Princeton Project 55 Fellowship Program. The primary purpose of the program was to provide Princeton students and recent graduates with opportunities for professional experience in the nonprofit sector and to help nonprofit organizations recruit talented employees. Setting up the program involved lining up nonprofit organizations who would hire undergraduates as interns for the summer or recent graduates as fellows for a year after graduation from Princeton and recruiting students, finding mentors for the fellows, and providing them with educational seminars.
National Character Education Partnership, 1991
The National Character Education Partnership was created in collaboration with the National Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. This program focused on the development of character education programs in K-12 education and has been largely responsible for creating these programs in public and private schools in all 50 states. The Character Education Partnership is now an independent nonprofit organization that serves as the leading resource for people and organizations that are integrating character education into their schools and communities.
Experiential Education Initiative (EEI), 1999
The Experiential Education Initiative was created in 1999 to provide crucial “start-up” support for Princeton’s efforts to create opportunities for community-based learning for its students. Today, EEI is known as the Community Based Learning Initiative (CBLI) and is run by the Office of the Dean of the College at Princeton University.
Tuberculosis Initiative (TBI), 1997-2003
The Tuberculosis Initiative focused on the worldwide eradication of tuberculosis at a moment when multi-drug resistant TB was threatening to explode. Princeton Project 55 initially served at the convener for organizations like the World Health Organization, the US Constitutional Defense Council, USAID, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Lung Association. Princeton Project 55 was a founding member of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development.
Civil Society and Community Building Online Course, 2003
In 2003, Princeton Project 55 developed a 14-week online course focusing on Civil Society and Community Building, which was offered in collaboration with the University’s Alumni Council. The course included readings, taped discussions by experts, an on-line forum, and a three-day exploration of relevant sites and issues in Chicago. It was designed to provide a theoretical and practical overview and explored various strategies for effective community change, and has since served as a model for other groups interested in similar curriculum.
Social Venture Fund
The Social Venture Fund (SVF) identifies and invests in promising social entrepreneurs who have graduated from Princeton and are launching innovative nonprofit organizations. Recipients include:
– 2004: The National Teaching Academy founded by Eric Westendorf ’94
– 2005: Biodiversity Neutral Initiative led by Jared Hardner ’92 and Ted Gullison *95
Civic Values Initiative (CIV), 2002-2006
The Civic Values Initiative was adopted as a Princeton Project 55 program in 2002 as an effort to encourage Princeton University to live its motto: “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and the Service of all Nations.” Charlie Bray, CIV’s proposer, principal promoter, and Program Leader, used to say that “we would know we had succeeded when it is taken for granted that to be a Princetonian is to be an active and effective citizen and community participant.” CIV staff developed, coordinated, and supported key initiatives that brought civic engagement to the forefront among students, alumni, faculty, and on-campus groups including the 2003 Civic Engagement Week and the Civil Society and Community Building Online Course. Another success of CIV was the formation of the Civic Values Task Force (CVTF), a group of Princeton undergraduates supported by Princeton Project 55 studied the civic engagement opportunities at peer institutions and published a report on their findings including recommendations for initiatives at Princeton University in November 2004.
Public Health Fellowship (PHF), 2006-2009
The Public Health Fellowship (PHF) was adopted in 2006 in an effort to recruit and develop a new generation of public health professionals by providing them with outstanding, life-altering year-long employment experiences in the public health field. Jim Gregoire ’69 and a committee of passionate Princetonians were instrumental in developing and administering the PHF. The PHF was incredibly successful in engaging new alumni, partner organizations, and students in the public interest. We continue to build on the success of the PHF through the Project 55 fellowship program.