With the goal of enhancing and expanding Princeton University’s fundamental commitment to the college success of talented students from first-generation, lower-income and underrepresented backgrounds, Bloomberg Philanthropies has made a significant gift that will establish the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity. The Center will bring together the University’s nation-leading initiatives in college access and opportunity, serve as a hub for research and innovation in the field of college access and success, and inform and strengthen similar efforts at colleges and universities across the country.
Emma Bloomberg, a member of the Princeton Class of 2001, has focused her career on expanding access to high-quality public education and to fighting poverty in New York City. Education is also a main area of funding for Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by Michael R. Bloomberg, and a key focus of his foundation is helping high-achieving, lower-income students attend selective colleges and universities.
“My years at Princeton were tremendously formative and inspiring, and my closest friends to this day remain my classmates. I am forever grateful to have experienced such an incredible opportunity, and I want young people across the world, regardless of race, class or geographic origin, to access the same resources and opportunities,” said Emma Bloomberg ’01, founder and CEO of Murmuration. “But to achieve that vision, we know that getting students to college isn't sufficient; we must do all we can to provide a more comprehensive support system for all who matriculate. This Center will help make sure that students who are disproportionately affected by the current inequities in education are better able to access supports, resources and opportunities, and that lessons learned are shared broadly across the country.”
“The Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity will be transformative for Princeton,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83. “Increasing educational access and opportunity is one of the University’s highest priorities, and support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will enhance and expand current programs that help more students thrive in college and beyond. The Emma Bloomberg Center will make its insights and initiatives available to other institutions that share our commitment to increasing socioeconomic diversity on college campuses. I am deeply grateful to Mike Bloomberg for his generosity and to Emma for her leadership and commitment to the future of Princeton.”
“Emma has dedicated her life to increasing educational opportunities for students who need them most, and our family and foundation are excited to expand on that work with a university so strongly committed to it,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP and 108th mayor of New York City. “As Princeton continues to raise the bar for what college access and success should mean, we look forward to seeing this new center help even more first-generation, lower-income students achieve their goals — and push our country forward on the path to equality and equity.”
Princeton has played a leading role in the national movement to increase socioeconomic diversity, access and inclusion in higher education, an effort bolstered by the University’s no-loan financial aid policy. Grant aid replaces loans to meet 100 percent of each student’s financial need, making it possible for most students to graduate from Princeton with little to no debt. This in turn expands the range of opportunities a graduate can pursue, without the weight of student loan repayments influencing their choices.
Since the no-loan policy was adopted in 2001, Princeton has increased the percentage of its student body that receives need-based federal Pell Grants from 6.2 percent in 2001 to 19.3 percent in the Class of 2024. And, among the students who were recently offered admission to Princeton’s Class of 2025, 22 percent will be first-generation college students, an increase from 17 percent last year.
The Emma Bloomberg Center will enable more students to find a pathway to success to, through and beyond Princeton. Programs that will be expanded and integrated into the new center include the Freshman Scholars Institute (FSI); the Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP); the University’s Program for Transfer, Non-Traditional and Veterans Students; the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program; the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP); and the Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP).
These programs are designed to provide all students with the mentorship, academic enrichment and community that they need to thrive at Princeton. They empower students to successfully navigate the University’s many resources, to achieve their professional, personal and scholarly goals, and to become active leaders on campus and in the larger world.
FSI is an immersive seven-week summer program that provides a group of incoming first-year students with an early opportunity to engage in intensive credit-bearing courses, participate in co-curricular activities and explore the University’s resources and support systems. The Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP) builds upon FSI, providing Princeton first-generation, lower-income (FLi) students with an ongoing, four-year peer cohort experience, advising, mentorship and scholarly and professional opportunities through partnerships with academic departments, the Center for Career Development and external organizations. PUPP offers comprehensive, year-round academic and social enrichment opportunities for area high school students and supports their applications to selective colleges and universities. PSJP is a summer on-campus program that provides an innovative residential journalism and college prep institute for high achieving high school juniors from lower-income backgrounds.
With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, these programs will be able to scale up, with the goal of both doubling in size and expanding offerings to students at other colleges and universities. In addition, the Center will serve as a home for developing new initiatives to meet emerging student needs, expanding educational outreach initiatives, and generating innovative programs to support students as they move beyond college into graduate school and/or their professional lives.
Thanks to a generous gift from Bob Peck, Class of 1988, Khristina Gonzalez, associate dean of the college, director of Programs for Access and Inclusion and director of the Freshman Scholars Institute, will now serve as the Bob Peck ’88 Director of the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity. Gonzalez leads the University’s suite of programs supporting first-generation, lower-income, veteran and nontraditional students. In 2017, she co-founded the FGLI (First-Generation, Lower-Income) Administrators Consortium, a national organization that provides leadership, expertise and resources around the experience of first-generation and/or lower-income college students at highly-selective universities and colleges. In 2018 and 2019, she hosted the annual FGLI Consortium Conferences at Princeton, bringing together an organization of college administrators from around the country to exchange resources and best practices for supporting and empowering FLi students.
“Over the last five years, I have witnessed tremendous campus support — from faculty, staff, alumni and students — for the important work of building programs and policies that promote equity of access and opportunity and that empower the global community of FLi students to achieve their academic and professional goals,” Gonzalez said. “Our FLi student community has been central in this effort, from the moment that they organized in 2014 to form one of the first FLi student groups, to last year, when they hosted a national conference on the experience of first-generation, lower-income students that brought over 450 participants to campus.
“These extraordinary gifts allow us to intensify these efforts — helping more students access college, ensuring that they have the opportunity to thrive on those campuses, and creating new channels to share best practices and research insights with other schools. We are so grateful to Emma and Mike Bloomberg for what their contribution means to the University. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this work at Princeton and feel particularly honored to assume a new title that reflects the ideals and generosity of Bob Peck, who has inspired me and so many of our students with his own story.”
Peck is the co-founder and a managing director of FPR Partners, a San Francisco-based private investment firm, is a trustee of Princeton University, and chairs the board of directors of PRINCO. He is a longstanding supporter of Princeton’s access and opportunity programming, including the Freshman Scholars Institute.
“I was the first person in my family to attend college, and while incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to attend Princeton, I quickly realized I wasn’t as prepared as some of my Princeton classmates,” Peck said. “By welcoming students from different backgrounds and helping them adjust to Princeton, we not only help them succeed in college and in life, we also introduce all Princeton students to a variety of worldviews and experiences that is essential to a modern education. And the University is so fortunate to have someone as talented and dedicated as Khristina as the first director of the Center.”
Emma Bloomberg is the founder and CEO of Murmuration, an organization launched in 2014 to develop shared infrastructure across groups that are working to mobilize communities to push for changes that will improve educational opportunities for all U.S. children. She previously spent seven years at Robin Hood, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting poverty in the five boroughs of New York City. Bloomberg currently serves on the boards of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Leadership for Educational Equity, New Classrooms and the KIPP Foundation.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ College Access and Success initiatives seek to combat undermatching and help high-achieving, lower-income students access the colleges and universities they deserve to attend. As part of that work, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched CollegePoint in 2015 to provide virtual college advising to high-achieving, lower-income students. The initiative has reached over 70,000 students to date. Bloomberg Philanthropies also founded the American Talent Initiative (ATI) in 2016, a growing alliance co-managed by the Aspen Institute and Ithaka S+R that includes over 130 colleges and universities committed to recruiting, enrolling and graduating more high-achieving, lower-income students. Princeton is one of the founding ATI members and President Eisgruber sits on ATI’s steering committee.
As part of the ATI leadership, Princeton shares best practices on the recruitment, enrollment and graduation of high-achieving, lower-income students among ATI peer institutions. Princeton has also partnered with a number of community-based organizations, including Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) and QuestBridge, to help identify and engage lower-income students who can enhance the Princeton community.
“Access and inclusion in higher education is one of the defining issues of our time and it is inspiring when institutions across the country mobilize to transform intent into action,” said Dan Porterfield, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and a member of ATI’s Steering Committee. “Through our work at the American Talent Initiative with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Princeton University, I have experienced firsthand the commitment from both partners to removing systemic barriers to educational opportunity, which will only grow stronger through this important new center.”
Through partnerships with ATI, the FGLI Consortium, and faculty members, the Emma Bloomberg Center will serve as a catalyst for innovation in the field of college access and opportunity. The gift will enable the robust evaluation of existing and new initiatives, facilitating the development of shareable best practices. In addition, the Center will serve as a hub to convene students, practitioners and researchers and to promote the exchange of ideas and expertise. Building on this exchange, the Center will also produce curricular material and resources for students and administrators that can be made widely available.
Princeton is also committed to building the next generation of professors, so that college faculties better reflect society, which is a challenge, given the persistent lack of diversity in the Ph.D. pipeline. The Emma Bloomberg Center will help develop candidates from groups underrepresented in academia by collaborating with the national Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program and Princeton’s Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows program to bolster, develop and spearhead initiatives in sevice of this work.
“Access and inclusion are an important part of the national conversation in higher education as colleges and institutions like ours try to reconcile the past, engage the present and change the future,” said Jill Dolan, dean of the college. “The Emma Bloomberg Center will amplify Princeton’s leadership, along with Bloomberg Philanthropies, in creating more opportunity and broader inclusion for talented students at Princeton and beyond, as we scale and extend our innovations beyond our campus. We are so grateful to Emma for enabling this new center, which will help inspire our students, faculty and staff to create programs that help secure a more equitable future for this generation and those to come.”
Princeton University will continue to build its fundraising efforts to fulfill its defining commitment to ensuring that a Princeton education is affordable for every student, including scholarships, fellowships and funds to support more equitable access to opportunities.
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About Bloomberg Philanthropies: Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate and personal philanthropy, as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, visit bloomberg.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok.
Main photo image credit: Fotobuddy