Harold Li ’15, Princeton Education Foundation

I spent three days interning for the Princeton Education Foundation, initially knowing nothing more about the corporation than its mission to facilitate private funding to public schools in the Princeton area. I was first greeted by Adrienne Rubin, the Executive Director of the foundation. We started the day by having a brief discussion of the foundation’s role in the education sector, and I realized that the organization not only provides funding, but also serves as an important connection between numerous different parts of the community, which encompasses concerned parents, the regional board of education, and donors. Adrienne also introduced me to the numerous initiatives that the Princeton Education Foundation have been actively involved in, including the Power-up campaign aimed at encouraging funding for enhanced technological resources, as well as the annual mini-grants that are granted to teachers inspired to conduct classes in a more innovative and effective manner. I was immediately struck by not only the multi-dimensional responsibilities and tasks that Adrienne has to deal with every day, but also how imperative and essential the nonprofit organization is to the local community; it acts both as a “bridge” and a benefactor to the Princeton community.

I spent the majority of my time in my Princeternship assisting Adrienne with two projects involving research on potential donor prospects. As the foundation encourages philanthropy, it is important that the company approaches the appropriate prospects that have more intimate connections with the Princeton public school community. Thus, I examined numerous databases with various arrays of information and helped Adrienne determine a couple dozen prospects that have a stronger association with the public school system and will most likely be willing to contribute to public education. I also conducted some background research on potential donors that could benefit the foundation’s prospects of garnering philanthropic contributions from the local community.

The meetings I attended during my Princeternship were the highlights of my experience. On the first day, I participated in the annual Community Works Conference held in the Frist Campus Center, where over 200 differentnonprofit organizations in the region were represented. Here, I listened to and acquired knowledge from speakers, including Adrienne, on how to “orchestrate” the success of a nonprofit organization. I learned about the ways nonprofit leaders utilize their resources and networking skills to achieve their societal missions, and I realized that the ultimate skill that leads to success is possessing strong communication skills. On the second day, I followed Adrienne to a Parents Teachers Organization (PTO) meeting at Johnson Park Elementary School. In the meeting, parents and teachers discussed the prospects of utilizing its annual funds to improve technological equipment in the school, and expressed their concerns of future funding by the Board of Education to Adrienne. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and concern the parents exhibited towards the education of their children; however, the meeting also illustrated the inherent distrust between the parents and the administrative board of education. As an international student, I found this experience invaluable, as it shed light on the state of the American Education system at the moment, and I was able to relate this to many of the dilemmas that exist in my public education system back home.  Later that morning, I also attended a brief meeting with Church & Dwight, Co, which provides funding for the “Music After School Program,” one of many projects that the Princeton Education Foundation runs. Again, I witnessed the importance of networking effectively with professional partners in order for the foundation to receive the funding that is necessary to keep the company running as well as to better Princeton education.

Adrienne Rubin and Harold

I had a splendid time working with Adrienne at the Princeton Education Foundation, and it was a wonderful experience getting to know more about the state of education around the Princeton area. I would recommend this Princeternship to anyone interested in knowing more about the nonprofit industry, especially in education.