Editor’s Note: Due to Princeton University’s policies in light of the coronavirus outbreak, this event has been canceled. Visit the website for information about ticket refunds or turning your ticket cost into a tax-deductible donation.
“There’s still great need in a town as affluent as Princeton is,” says Jennifer Jang, board chair of the 101: fund, which provides need-based college scholarships to Princeton High School graduates.
The fund, founded in 1970 by a high school administrator and formerly known as the Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a benefit event on Saturday, March 21, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Prospect House on the Princeton University campus. The evening includes food, cocktails, and live music by the Franklin Alison Band. Tickets are $150 and are available online or at the door. Visit www.fund101.org for more information.
“Fifty years is a long time to be in existence as a nonprofit, so we’re trying to celebrate all the work that’s been done and ensure the fund is well supported for the years to come,” Jang says.
The 101: fund is, in a way, a culmination of efforts by Princeton’s schools to help less privileged students. “All of the public schools have funds to help underserved or under-resourced kids,” Jang explains. “When you get to the high school there are other funds and resources, but in a town like Princeton where we’re pretty focused here on going to college, I think this is the last place that community members can be super helpful in getting people to that goal that’s so valued here.”
The 101: fund’s scholarships are entirely need based and cap at $10,000 for a four-year school. For students attending Mercer County Community College the maximum is $12,000, an amount that can cover the entire cost of a achieving an associate’s degree.
“We try to close the gap between what a school financial aid offer might be and parents’ contributions,” Jang says.
While the application process does not require essays or transcripts, “We like to get a sense of students and make sure they’re truly interested in going to school,” Jang says. The scholarships can be used at two- and four-year schools as well as for vocational programs, as long as it’s accredited and not for-profit.
And unlike other scholarship programs, 101: stays with the students throughout their time in college.
“Plenty of scholarships hand over the check and say good luck have a great life, but what we actually do is we pay over the length of time the student is in school,” Jang explains. ‘The reason we do that is we’ve found that students go to school that first year, and they’re not always as successful as they hoped. We don’t want all the award money used up the first year if it’s not going to go as smoothly as they’d hoped.”
The 101: fund has always been a true community effort. In addition to its 21-member, all-volunteer board, which administers the scholarships and conducts fundraising activities, there has for the past seven years been a student auxiliary. That group, under the leadership of school psychologist David Rosenfeld, meets throughout the year to plan bake sales, send care packages to award recipients, and raise awareness among their peers. They also plan a talent show, scheduled this year for Friday, March 27, at 7 p.m. at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $5 at the door.
101: also has a mentoring program specifically for students at Mercer County Community College. “About six years ago we felt that some of our students at MCCC who face a lot of challenges needed a little more support,” Jang says. “For some of our students who are first generation and struggling financially they need help navigating the bureaucracy over there,” including acquiring textbooks and arranging transportation to and from campus.
“It’s been pretty successful,” Jang continues. “That’s another way people in the community can get involved. They’ve taught mentees how to drive, choose courses, make decisions about course of study, give rides. I’m super grateful to all the folks past and current who do that work for us. They’re completely unsung. Their names aren’t going to appear anywhere. But they can really be a lifeline for the students.”
Jang, who is in her fourth year as board president, says “It’s been really remarkable. I’ve been fascinated to learn the history and how people have worked together for decades to make this work and I’m really lucky to have a terrific group of board members.”
But as the group reflects on 50 successful years, Jang continues looking toward the future. “We’re lucky we’ve had some longtime generous supporters, but you can never rest on your laurels. We make a commitment to these students that we’re going to be there, not just this year, but four years in. That motivates us highly.”
50th Anniversary Celebration, 101: Fund, Prospect House, Princeton University. Dinner, cocktails, and live music by the Franklin Alison Band marking the 50th anniversary of the fund that provides need-based scholarships to Princeton High School graduates. Register. $150 and up. 7 to 11 p.m.