Grzegorz Nowak ’15, Princeton Education Foundation

Adrienne Rubin and Grzegorz

On Thursday, March 29th, I walked down Witherspoon Street, made a right onto Valley Road, and entered the Princeton Public Schools Administrative Building for the first day of my Princeternship with the Princeton Education Foundation. The Princeton Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports excellence in education in the Princeton Public Schools and has contributed over $1,000,000 to the Princeton Public Schools since its inception in 1995.   I was met in the lobby by Adrienne Rubin (Music ’88), the Executive Director of the Princeton Education Foundation.  As we headed upstairs to the alum’s office, I learned that Mrs. Rubin is the first and only employee of the Princeton Education Foundation.  The remainder of the Princeton Education Foundation is a group of volunteers that make up the Board of Members.  I quickly realized that the Princeternship was going to be a special experience when Mrs. Rubin told me how working for a nonprofit is rewarding by knowing that you are doing something good for the community and seeing the positive change you are making.  Although the work keeps you busy and can be difficult, it is something that gets you up in the morning excited, which is what every job should do for a person. 

Mrs. Rubin set me up working on a project for the Princeton Education Foundation’s annual Spring Gala, the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser.  I entered donors into an Excel spreadsheet so that the information can be entered into a larger database.  I saw that the generous donations from the supportive community were what kept the Princeton Education Foundation doing the great things that it was for the Princeton Public Schools.  While the Princeton Public Schools received funding from taxes, this was only able to do so much.  The Princeton Education Foundation helped take the Princeton Public Schools from adequacy to excellence. 

After going on a Breakout Trip where I had the incredible opportunity of working with nonprofits providing health care to undocumented and uninsured patients in Los Angeles the week before my Princeternship, it was inspiring to see how another nonprofit can positively impact its community.   During my second and final day of the Princeternship, I had the fun task of creating a brochure for the Princeton Education Foundation, which helped me learn why the Princeton Education Foundation does the great work that it does.  A quote from a video created by the Princeton Education Foundation, “We all get into this business because we want to help kids, you see every kid shine,” will surely stay in the back of my head as I realized that by working hard to positively impact something you are passionate about you can do amazing things for those around you.  I look forward to the moment I find an issue that I love so deeply I can also do nonprofit work and make a positive impact.

The Princeternship program is special because even after only a few hours, the alum made me feel connected to the Princeton alumni community.  I love helping others achieve their dreams because I know there were many people that helped me get to where I am.  I am very glad and thankful someone as friendly and nice as Mrs. Rubin was there to share her experiences and work with me.  I plan on continuing the great tradition of Princeton alumni by helping future Princetonians figure out their passions when I am an one day an alumnus.

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.