The Alumni Network Conference Welcomes David Bornstein

By Stephanie Mirkin
Program Manager, Princeton Project 55
November 6, 2007

On November 30, alumni and staff from alumni-driven public interest programs around the country will gather in Princeton, New Jersey for the annual Conference of The Alumni Network. In addition to workshops and networking opportunities, we are honored this year to welcome as our keynote speaker, award-winning author, David Bornstein.

Bornstein wrote How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, which recounts the inspiring stories of people around the globe who are solving many of the world’s toughest problems. Bornstein is also the author of The Price of a Dream: The Story of Grameen Bank which won second prize in the Harry Chapin Media Awards, was a finalist for the Helen Bernstein New York Public Library Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and was selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best business books of 1996. Bornstein was recently presented with the 2007 Human Security Award for the profound difference he has made in helping to protect and empower the world’s most vulnerable people. Bornstein’s keynote address is sure to inspire the affiliates of The Alumni Network to continue their hard work and dedication in the public interest.

Bornstein will also be speaking to the campus community at 4:30 pm on Friday, November 30. This event will be open to the public.

Register for the TAN Conference online by going to www.alumnicorps.org and clicking on the Project 55 Connect login tab. The conference agenda as well as transportation and accommodation information can also be found on our website at www.alumnicorps.org/programs/tan_conference.

Fellowship Offers Firsthand Exposure to Public Health

By Stephanie Mirkin
Program Manager, Princeton Project 55
November 6, 2007

Ruby Greywoode
Ruby Greywoode

Like many Princeton Project 55 fellows, Ruby Greywoode ’07 graduated from Princeton and immediately jumped into her Public Health Fellowship at Norwalk Community Health Center. From the very beginning, she was inundated with the daily tasks and responsibilities of operating the health center, which provides high quality, comprehensive primary health care to the uninsured and underinsured residents of Norwalk, Connecticut and the surrounding towns.

After only four months into her fellowship, Ruby has already “learned and experienced a great deal” through her interactions with patients, doctors, and other community members. Thus far the position has allowed her the opportunity to work on numerous projects and experience many different aspects of the clinic.

Ruby has helped to organize community outreach programs to raise health awareness, to assist the nurses with basic clinical tasks, and to compile reports on clinical outcomes for the Department of Health. Working in the clinic also enables her intellectual growth in medicine by encouraging her to observe patient visits and attend lectures with the residents.

Ruby said these unique opportunities have given her, “a much better sense of how the clinic operates and some places in need of improvement.” With Ruby’s career aspirations in medicine, the chance to work in the clinical environment and get hands-on experience in health care will prove incredibly valuable to her future.

Lawrence Cross, Executive Director of Norwalk Community Health Center, comments that, “having this kind of brain power for nominal money enables cash-poor health centers to undertake projects that would otherwise be out of reach.” In fact, although the clinic is already involved in many programs on-site and in the community, it is looking to expand and enrich its services, which should make for an exciting fellowship year for Ruby and an exciting future in Norwalk.

Theresa Newhard and Vanessa Jackson ’04 Receive Reynolds Fellowships

By Kim Hendler
Executive Director, Princeton Project 55
May 18, 2007

PIP alumna, Vanessa Jackson ’04, and Theresa Newhard, the former Public Interest Program Manager, were recently selected as two of twenty New York University Graduate Reynolds Fellows in Social Entrepreneurship.

Jackson and Newhard will receive a $25,000 scholarship annually, in addition to specialized coursework and seminars throughout the year.

“The Catherine B. Reynolds Fellowship is a wonderful program, and I feel very honored to have received this award…I feel indebted to the experience I have had at PP55 and am excited to know that I will be able to pursue the work of incubating young civic leaders in school and beyond,” Newhard stated.

Both women were selected from 350 applicants from all of NYU’s graduate schools.

As a part of the application process, applicants had to submit and present on a proposal for civic change.

The proposal Newhard submitted and spoke to during the selection process was around the idea of developing a civic leadership academic curriculum at domestic and international universities, which she reports was, “based in large part off of what I have experienced working at PP55.”

“I intend to focus my studies/Fellowship on developing a civic leadership academic curriculum domestically and abroad,” Newhard said.

“This concept is, in large part, a result of my experience at PP55 and learning about the successes and efforts of its various programs. I owe that inspiration to everyone at the organization.”

Princeton Project 55 congratulates Newhard and Jackson!

TAN Affiliate Profile: Alumni Partner with Public Education

By Adam Arents
Project Manager, Alumni for Public Schools (APS)
May 18, 2007

Harold Russell doesn’t live in Chicago. He doesn’t even live in Illinois. But every Wednesday he drives for an hour and a half from his home in Lakeside, Michigan to Elihu Yale Elementary School on the south side of Chicago to work with students in the school’s Leadership Club.

Harold is part of a group of Yale University alumni who have been volunteering at Yale Elementary since 1997, when the Yale Club of Chicago formed a partnership with the school.

Since then, Yale volunteers have tutored, mentored, donated clothing and books, held a Secret Santa program, and most recently helped sponsor a field trip over spring break to Washington, D.C. for 20 students in the Leadership Club.

Peter Dickinson, another volunteer from the Yale club, says, “Tutoring at the school is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”

The Yale volunteers are not alone in finding work with the schools to be deeply meaningful.

Who we are

They are part of an organization in Chicago called Alumni for Public Schools (APS), which promotes and supports such partnerships between college and university alumni clubs and individual Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

There are approximately thirty alumni clubs in Chicago that have partnerships with schools, doing activities ranging from sponsoring college visits to judging academic contests to helping students prepare for standardized tests.

APS grew out of a vision shared by John Fish ’55 and Oren Pollock *51, active members of the Princeton Club of Chicago who volunteered regularly at Theodore Roosevelt High School.

Alumni from both Princeton and Harvard were involved in supporting schools through a variety of activities that benefited not only the students and the schools, but the volunteers as well.

Fish and Pollock saw alumni clubs as an underutilized network, and they envisioned dozens of partnerships that would engage college and university alumni in meaningful service for students in Chicago.

Other alumni in Chicago rallied around the idea and formed partnerships of their own, and APS formed a board of alumni volunteers.

Institutional Support

For the past two years APS has been able to have a full-time staff person housed at CPS and devoted solely to supporting current partnerships and encouraging new ones.

Arne Duncan, schools CEO, provided salary support for the first year and since then APS has received private support from the Gorter Family Foundation.

APS now provides a link and a means of communication between the CPS central office, participating schools and volunteers from participating alumni associations.

Volunteers and school representatives can share best practices with each other at events such as partnership workshops, which equip them with the knowledge and resources they need to be more effective partners.

Challenges to Overcome

The alumni clubs still face challenges as they seek to support CPS students. About half of the thirty partnerships are in a development stage as they try to gather volunteers and coordinate activities with their schools.

However, it is easier than ever for alumni clubs to work together in their partnerships by sharing ideas and encouraging each other.

APS is there to help organize and energize volunteers so they can continue to make valuable contributions to the schools.

The schools face challenges, too, but APS hopes to ensure that more and more of them are enjoying help from committed alumni who care deeply about public education.

Arents is the Project Manager for APS which is housed within Chicago Public Schools (CPS). John Fish ’55, the Program Leader and Founder of the PP55’s Public Interest Program, also played a significant role in the founding of Alumni for Public Schools. For more information about Alumni for Public Schools, visit www.aps-chicago.org

A Fellow for Life: Thomas Atwater ’06, Fellow at The Food Project

By Thomas Atwater ’06
2006 PIP Fellow
May 18, 2007

My fellowship at The Food Project began a few days after taking the MCAT.

In my new job, I foresaw that I would be learning about topics that were unfamiliar to me, such as food systems and agriculture.

What I failed to predict, however, was the collision of my career path with the principles of social justice that underpin The Food Project’s work.

The Food Project’s Niche

The Food Project occupies a unique niche of promoting sustainable food systems as a solution to social inequalities.

Many people would agree that the right to healthy food is a concept that is fundamental and to be taken for granted. But I have seen over and again the gratitude in the eyes of low-income men and women when they are able to use their food stamps to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits.

“I have to take three bus transfers to get food half this fresh,” one woman said.

“Now I don’t have to worry about my children having the same health problems I have.”

That first encounter resonated deeply within me. Since then I have begun to realize that residents of the inner-city need a model such as a community food system just as much as they need prescriptions for blood thinners.

Lessons Learned

I view my work with The Food Project as a stimulating and thought-provoking experience that is opening my eyes to innovative forms of social justice.

The particular niche of sustainable food systems in the inner city my not be my life passion, but such a model has made me think deeply about the causes of inequality instead of its conventional fixes.

More specifically, in the context of health disparities, I have had a first-hand opportunity to look at the social and economic causes of poor health instead of solely pharmaceutical or medical solutions.

I work intimately with communities of few resources, and I see that the only way to cause a systemic change is to address the root of the problem.

For the communities of Roxbury and Dorchester in inner-city Boston, the answer to healthy diets is not only fresh food.

Education to inform people of how diet affects health is paramount, as is policy that advocates for better food options in schools.

Similarly, I think that the answer to sickness and poor health is not just medicine.

Widespread improvement of health will also require education about preventative practices and creation of health policy councils to voice concerns to the local government.

Looking to the Future

This is not to say that I have found the answer to all health issues in the world—although that would be nice.

I have found, however, a focus for my passion for medicine through observing how a problem can be solved by community organizing and education.

Some in the medical field are more inclined to carve wide-sweeping policy or cure epidemics that affect millions.

I have realized that my place is on a smaller scale where I can reach out to communities and affect social change in a way that is inextricably linked to personal change.

If this has a grassroots-y feel to it, then it is warranted because I cannot begin to describe the gratification that I feel in serving individuals and singular communities.

The result is so tangible and the relationship becomes strong and sustainable.

This article is derived from Atwater’s remarks at the Princeton Project 55 Board of Directors meeting in Boston on April 21.

Boston Outreach Dinner Draws a Record Crowd

By Nora Samuelson
Program Manager, Princeton Project 55
May 18, 200

photo-new-howard-hiatt
Dr. Howard Hiatt, the former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health

On Friday, April 20, 75 Princeton alumni and friends of Princeton Project 55 gathered for the annual Outreach Dinner at WilmerHale Law Firm in Boston to share the year’s successes, and to learn more about the work Princeton Project 55 is doing across the country.

Dr. Howard Hiatt, the former Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and a distinguished expert in public health, global health, and medicine was the keynote speaker for the evening.

Hiatt spoke as part of PP55’s celebration of the placement of the first class of Public Health Fellows.

In his presentation, Hiatt shared his experiences in the field of health over the last fifty years. He discussed the ways in which perceptions of health, medicine, and public health have transformed drastically.

Hiatt’s speech sparked numerous questions from the audience, and discussion regarding his thoughts and observations continued long after he left the podium.

Guests also heard from Public Interest Program (PIP) alumna and volunteer Dena Schlamowitz ’04, who shared her story as a PIP Fellow with Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) in Boston.

“As a Project 55 Fellow, I was given opportunities, power, and influence that most Princeton graduates would kill for their first year out of college,” Schlamowitz remarked.

“I wake up excited every day about the purpose of my work and how it contributes to providing opportunities for all children to learn and become scholars and leaders,” she concluded.

Local alumni, current Fellows, and affiliates of The Alumni Network are invited to the Outreach Dinner, held in a different location each year.