The Princeton AlumniCorps Bold Idea

Back row (right to left): Bob Kettle (Connecticut Appleseed), Stephanie Beaugh (Louisiana Appleseed), Dee Flaherty (Appleseed Network), Annette LoVoi (Appleseed Network), Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06 (Princeton University, Princeton AlumniCorps), Debra Erenberg (Consultant), Kef Kasdin ’85 (Princeton AlumniCorps), Renee Steinhagen *81 (New Jersey Appleseed), Caryn Tomljanovich (Princeton AlumniCorps), David Tipson ’96 (New York Appleseed), Christy Kane (Louisiana Appleseed).
Front row (right to left): Adriana Abizadeh (Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund), Rocío Villalobos (Texas Appleseed), John Heilner ’63 (Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund), Sahand Keshavarz Rahbar ’17 (Princeton AlumniCorps), Shaina Ward, Maru Cortazar (Mexico Appleseed), Malcolm Rich (Chicago Appleseed).

On October 16 and 17, Princeton AlumniCorps hosted a convening at Princeton University enabling dialogue and promoting action on immigration and refugee issues.  The meeting, a launch of AlumniCorps’ new Bold Idea initiative, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, brought together nonprofit and public interest organizations, practitioners, academics, policymakers, and funders.

The agenda included presentations on the current federal landscape of immigration policy and the local impact of these policies on vulnerable communities and the direct service organizations that work with them. The convening also provided opportunities for the 29 participants to engage with one another and brainstorm potential avenues of collaboration. The discussions culminated in a series of immediate project priorities for further engagement, with the aim of consolidating the budding partnerships between the different attendees while expanding the circle of participation as the initiative moves forward.

As President and Executive Director of AlumniCorps Kef Kasdin noted, “This meeting and our Bold Idea represent the heart of what Princeton AlumniCorps is all about: mobilizing people, organizations, and networks for the public good. We are grateful that the Hewlett Foundation has catalyzed this effort through their generous support.”

Emerging from the most recent AlumniCorps strategic plan, the Bold Idea endeavors to leverage the resources, strengths, and experiences of AlumniCorps’ considerable network of 600 partner organizations, 200+ volunteers, and 2,000 program alumni to make a palpable impact on an issue of public interest. The Bold Idea concept was inspired partly by previous endeavors undertaken by AlumniCorps in its early years, like the Tuberculosis Initiative (1997-2002). This first iteration of the Bold Idea, with a focus on immigration, is a two-year pilot that will extend into 2019. AlumniCorps will use the network-building insights gleaned from this pilot to select a new Bold Idea topic every three years.

To bolster the collective impact of this initial pilot project, AlumniCorps has partnered with Appleseed, a network of public interest legal centers throughout the United States and Mexico with a successful track record of developing bi-partisan solutions to persistent and challenging social issues. “Our commitment to network building and collaboration strongly aligns with the mission of AlumniCorps” said Deirdre Flaherty, President of Appleseed, “We are excited to harness the power of our combined networks on this key and timely issue.”