Princeton Internships in Civic Service launched a new endowment called the Leave Your Legacy campaign, a separate initiativefrom its original endowment established within Princeton University Investment Company, which manages the University’s larger endowment.
The original PICS endowment was based largely on donations from the Class of 1969 after its 25th Reunion. Typically, classes give substantial gifts to celebrate their 25th reunions, according to Jeri Schaefer, executive director of PICS.
Previously, University alumni making financial contributions to PICS would have to do so through the PRINCO, as dictated at the time of PICS’s establishment.
“For a variety of reasons, when people made gifts to that fund, they were not recognized by the University as a gift to the University. They were gifts to PICS, which is a separate legal organization,” Leave Your Legacy Campaign Chair Bob Axelrod ’69 explained.
“We felt that, as we are now approaching people for five-, six-, and perhaps even seven-figure gifts, [contributors] would want to have those gifts be recognized by the University.”
Leave Your Legacy is a new alumni-based endowment fund intended to enable PICS to expand its program offerings, encouraging alumni from all classes to contribute, Axelrod noted.
The private phase of the campaign began on Jan. 1, 2016, and the public phase commences today. The new endowment will help respond to the growing number of applicants to PICS.On average, the program receives 550 applications for 140 internships.
“We are serving about a third of the interest and, really, a third of our potential. We would like to significantly increase the number of internships for undergraduates,” Axelrod said.
According to the 2015 Annual Report, internship stipends account for 78 percent of the program’s total expenses. “In many cities, the $450 individual stipend provided [per week] is enough to cover all expenses,” said Student Advisory Council chair and two-time intern Carlos Sotelo ’17. “In others, like New York City, that doesn’t go all the way.”
“That would be in areas of grassroots, social service organizations, and arts-related organizations that don’t have much in the way of their own funding support,” Axelrod explained.
Although PICS has seen increased interest, its limited financial resources have kept the program small. The Leave Your Legacy campaign is attempting to change that.
“There is a larger demand than supply of available internships,” Sotelo said. “We can use more financial support to meet this demand.”
In June, PICS partnered with the Office of Career Services to further assist students in fitting service into their eventual career paths.
“PICS is at an interesting, pivotal moment in its growth,” Shirley Wu ’15 said. Wu is a two-time PICS intern, young alumni trustee, and founding member of SAC. “Alongside the evolution of PICS’s internship opportunities and programming, you have an evolution in how it is being recognized and supported financially.”
Additionally, the founding class of ’69 hopes the Leave Your Legacy campaign will encourage financial contributions from other classes. By involving alumni of all ages in the organization, the class hopes to create a more lasting impact.
“There has been a major shift to diversify the board,” PICS Board Chair Chuck Freyer ’69 said. “We began with only members of the class of ’69 and now include members of 10 graduating classes spanning an age difference of 40 years.”
The extension of PICS also addresses a modernization concern regarding alumni-student mentorships. As the number of ’69 graduates leaving the workplace climbs, board members hope to modernize PICS for the next generation of students by connecting them with younger alumni.
“There is an alumni partner for every intern, and usually, from the student’s perspective, students learn a lot more if that alum is still actively working in some sort of a professional capacity,” Wu said. “This is why the program is in particular need of support and volunteers from more recent alumni classes, as opposed to the Class of 1969, which is largely approaching retirement.”
Broadening the economic foundation and welcoming all alumni to participate as both financiers and partners can help guarantee PICS’s future sustainability, according to Axelrod.
“Donors see [PICS] as an extension of the University’s commitment to service,” Freyer said. “They want their gifts to go towards PICS, but they would also like recognition by the University.”
A model instituted by the Class of 1955, expansion of the program in such a way allows “alumni of any class year [to] donate to this campaign and say, ‘This is going to be money that I give to PICS as part of its endowment to support its operation going forward,’” Wu said.
The new endowment will follow the basic principles of the old: PICS will only spend the account earnings, leaving the principal untouched.