The summer of 2008 was an exciting time for the 68 new Princeton Project 55 Fellows to begin their fellowship placements. For many of the fellows, this was their first time entering the “real world” of a 9-5 job and paying rent. For others, this is the foundation for a career in the nonprofit sector and public service. For all fellows, we hope this will be the beginning of a lifelong commitment to the public interest, civic leadership, and the Project 55 community.
As Project 55 begins a new program year of supporting our fellows, partner organizations, and area committees, we would like to welcome our newest class of fellows and wish them a successful year.
Project 55 is working to energize their base in the Bay Area! John Shriver, PP55’s new Program Manager, visited San Francisco fellows, partner organizations, volunteers, and supporters from Oct. 27th-29th. John was excited to meet with Project 55’s “boots on the ground.”
Princeton Project 55 and Harvard CPIC are working together to present “On Philanthropy,” a collaborative seminar featuring The Boston Foundation. Come hear from a leader in the field at the Phillips Brooks House on Harvard campus!
It was a busy October for our Chicago group. At the Oct. 15th Mixer for current and former fellows, PP55ers had the opportunity to meet and network with professionals in their field and discuss their Project 55 experiences. On Oct. 30, PP55 Fellows were the honored guests (wow!) at the Chicago Aspire and Inspire dinner.
Feel like Connecticut fellows are out of the loop? Think again! On October 30th, fellows were on the front lines of public health as they toured the Fairhaven Community Health Center, where Sita Bushan ’08 is currently a PP55 Fellow.
New Jersey / New York
Nov. 18 was a great opportunity for fellows, mentors and nonprofit professionals to meet, greet and make connections at the second annual PP55 Connections Night!
Think there’s a set curriculum to follow to revamp educational opportunity in the United States? Think again. D.C. area fellows, TAN Affiliates and volunteers heard from three leaders in D.C. education reform who are shaking things up and working relentlessly to provide high quality education for all children. The Education Entrepreneurship seminar on Nov.10 featured accomplished leaders from College Summit, Teach for America and D.C. Preparatory Academy.
To learn more about the many exciting PP55 regional activities taking place across the nation, contact John Shriver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project 55 is pleased to announce that through the active and generous participation of fellowship and internship alumni, volunteers, founders, and other supporters, we have raised approximately $48,755! This will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
Please join Project 55 today in meeting the $55,000 challenge! Gifts from internship and fellowship alumni, new donors, and increased gifts from current donors will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $55,000 from January-December 2008.
PP55 has approximately $6,245 left to raise in our campaign. We urge you to join us as we envision an even greater impact on organizations and communities through the alumni we mobilize in the public interest.
To make your gift, send a check to Princeton Project 55, 12 Stockton Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540. Or, click the “Donate” button. Questions? Contact Natasha Robinson, Development Officer, at 609-921-8808 ext. 7 or email@example.com.
“In good economic times and bad, Princeton Project 55 must stay positive, creative, and keep working hard to fulfill our mission of mobilizing alumni in the public interest. Now more than ever, PP55 and the fellows serving communities across the country are relying on your generous support.”
At 9:00 every Wednesday morning, fellows in Chicago enter their weekly seminar eager to learn about important social issues affecting the communities they are working to improve.
As the discussion gets underway, fellows draw on their past experiences to provide insights. Some talk about volunteering at the local soup kitchen through Northwestern University, others mention organizing a fundraiser for a community center through the University of Chicago, and others talk about mentoring elementary school students through Princeton University.
While this may seem unusual, it has actually become ordinary in Chicago for Princeton Project 55, Northwestern University Public Interest Program, and the University of Chicago Public Interest Program to work together to design a seminar series for all the fellows at these institutions.
With 33 fellows among the three programs this year, greater opportunities exist for sharing insights and perspectives on social issues. Aiala Levy ’07, former Project 55 Fellow at Mikva Challenge, said of collaborative seminars, “One of my favorite aspects of the Project 55 program in Chicago was being able to interact with and get to know fellows from Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Having fellows from local universities meant, in seminars, a broader range of perspectives and, outside of seminars, a fun guide to the city. In fact, some of the best friends I made as a Project 55 Fellow were graduates of Northwestern and University of Chicago.
Chicago is not the only PP55 location that benefits from collaborating with The Alumni Network affiliates. Collaboration is increasingly playing a key role in the success of local seminar series and fellowship communities in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Combining efforts with TAN affiliate programs in fellowship locations increases local connections to offer a broader array of seminars, provides greater man-power to organize events, and allows fellows to build a larger network and learn from a diverse group of people.
In Washington D.C, Washington and Lee University’s Elrod Fellowship and Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers work very closely with the Project 55 area committee to plan seminars for fellows. John Nolan, alumni volunteer for the Elrod Fellowship, participates on monthly conference calls with local affiliates and is instrumental in planning programming for fellows. With the small size of the Elrod Fellowship, Nolan comments that “without collaboration, the ability for robust seminars does not exist.”
In addition, with more volunteers on the committee, the “number of local contacts increases along with the ability to generate great ideas.” Nolan has also found it an enriching experience to work with alumni from other universities, commenting that the work “has been absolutely seamless.”
Alumni from TAN affiliate programs all over the country rally behind the common goal of exposing young alumni to the public interest and collaborate to expand the educational offerings for these future civic leaders.
The Alumni Network: 2008-2009 Placement Numbers
The success of TAN affiliates can be seen through the increased number of internship and fellowship placements made each year. We’ve included the impressive 2008-2009 internship and fellowship placement numbers for 16 of our TAN affiliates below. For a complete breakdown by program and geographic region, please log into Project 55 Connect.
At age 28 while in seminary, Katrina Browne ’89 received a booklet from her grandmother detailing the history of her forefathers, the DeWolf family. That booklet would send Browne on a nine-year journey to tell the story of her DeWolf ancestors’ role as the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history in a documentary called Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North.
Katrina joined the Project 55 family in 1990 as a member of Project 55’s inaugural fellowship class at The Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. Katrina’s PP55 Fellowship experience launched her into a career in public service, an interest that has continued to grow and strengthen with time.
After her Project 55 Fellowship, Browne co-founded Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that seeks to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. The fact that Public Allies’ mission is closely aligned with that of Project 55 is no mistake. “What Project 55 had done for me was what Vanessa [Kirsch, co-founder of Public Allies] and I had in mind for an organization; assisting young people into becoming civic leaders who were experts on the needs of their community to make social change.
Katrina credits John Fish ’55 and Charlie Bray ’55, co-founders of Project 55, as instrumental in assisting her and Kirsch to start the program. Public Allies had its founding conference at Wingspread Conference Center housed at the Johnson Foundation, where Bray was on the board of directors. It was there that Browne and Kirsch met a charismatic community organizer from Chicago, Barack Obama, who suggested his wife, Michelle, become the Chicago Executive Director of Public Allies, a position she held from 1993-1996.
Public Allies currently operates in 15 U.S. cities across the nation and is led by CEO Paul Schmitz, who expanded the program to Milwaukee, Wisconsin soon after its founding. “The founding of Public Allies was an amazing ripple effect of Project 55 and an example of how Project 55 believes in young people,” Browne states.
Browne says that her experience in fundraising to start a nonprofit organization from the ground gave her the valuable skills she needed to produce her first film, Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North, which had its national broadcast premiere on June 24, 2008 on PBS’s documentary series P.O.V. Browne reflects, “This film epitomizes the course of my thinking after Project 55 and Public Allies. It is all about internal and external transformation. What are the attitudes that getin the way of social justice and social policy? what are the emotional blocks for Americans?”
The film follows Browne and nine other DeWolf descendants as they retrace the steps of the Triangle Trade, visiting the DeWolf hometown of Bristol, Rhode Island, slave forts on the coast of Ghana, and the ruins of a family plantation in Cuba. “There were so many moving parts—logistics, post-production, 10 family members, 3 countries, one of which America has embargoed. It was a lot to take on,” Browne reflects.
In the film, Browne pushes her family forward as they struggle through the minefield of race politics. With growing calls for reparations for slavery, Browne’s family struggles to make sense of their history and contribute to “repair.”
When asked how the film is relevant for today’s society, Browne states, “For white Americans, it’s not part of our legacy and everyday experience to think of race, which is one of the hallmarks of privilege. The legacy of slavery has so many permutations: homeownership rates among African Americans, rates of incarceration, lack of college education and the lack of healthcare. It’s important that a national conversation on race is brought out and discussed openly.”
The film has received critical acclaim from Stephen Holden of The New York Times, who wrote, “A far-reaching personal documentary examination of the slave trade…the implications of the film are devastating.”
Throughout the years, Princeton Project 55’s alumni volunteers, partner organizations, supervisors and mentors provide opportunities to expose fellows and each other to systemic issues and solutions and leadership development. Browne’s work on the film Traces of the Trade exemplifies Project 55’s goal to encourage fellows to remain civically engaged and bring about social change—whatever the medium.
“I currently live in Singapore and am now working with several organizations in South and Southeast Asia on issues of women’s rights, primarily on reform of Muslim family laws and the implementation of CEDAW (the UN “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women”) at the national level.” This is how former Fellow Jana Rumminger ’97 describes her work right now.
At Princeton, Jana Rumminger made a name for herself as an English major, focusing her independent work in African American and South African literature. During her junior year, Jana took advantage of an opportunity to spend a spring/summer term abroad at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. During this “turning point in my Princeton experience,” Jana began to re-orient herself toward public service and issues of justice.
Jana became a PP55 Fellow at Leake & Watts Services in Yonkers, NY. Other fellowships took her to a food bank in Texas and to policy-related work in Washington, D.C.
In 2004 Jana graduated from Northeastern University School of Law with a law degree and a master’s degree in Law, Policy and Society.
Looking back on her Princeton Project 55 fellowship at a Residential Treatment Center (Leake & Watts) for troubled and abused teenage foster kids, Jana is grateful for “the opportunity to merge the theory I had learned at Princeton with real-life experience.”
Jana’s fellowship experience led her to other fellowships and ultimately to a law school and the human rights work she currently does in Malaysia. Her advice for future or current PP55 fellows: “I would stress the importance of gaining experience at the grassroots level and in a variety of organizational settings. This will give you exposure and insight into the lived realities of people and the issues they grapple with, as well as insight into how organizations function.”
Jana Rumminger’s example provides an inspiring model of the impact and good that former fellows are doing in the world. The good news is, Jana is just one of many stellar Project 55 alumni who are using the skills and gifts they honed at Princeton, through fellowships, and in later graduate school work, to work for justice and human rights around the world.