Beginning this year, the Class of 1995 will grant stipends of as much as $500 each to two undergraduate students to pursue public and community service opportunities during the summer.
The Class of 1995 Summer Service Fund is intended to foster a life-long commitment to volunteerism in undergraduates, according to John Smith '95, the chief organizer of the effort.
"The purpose of this fund is to encourage students to dedicate a block of their lives to service and make that selflessness part of their professional aspirations," Smith said. "I consider this a mission to provide good opportunities to undergraduates who wish to do any sort of service project over the summer."
Class of 1995 secretary Chris Hand, who has taken on the role of publicizing the summer service fund, said he believes that through this program the Class of 1995 is promoting the core ideals of the University. "The class of '95 wants to be at the forefront of 'Princeton in the Nation's Service,' " Hand said.
The summer service fund is available to all undergraduates without regard to financial need, Smith said. Interested students must complete a short application, due Mar. 15, and participate in an interview. "We wanted to make it relatively easy for students to apply so that it is not too much of a burden," he said.
Smith said he first thought of a plan for the class of '95 to establish such a program during his senior year at the University. As president of his class, he set about garnering support from other seniors.
"It was my idea, and I wanted to see it through. Other classmates were very excited about it," Smith said. "Many of us were recipients of funds from previous classes, and we wanted to leave a similar legacy."
Along with several other members of the class of '95, Smith started raising money from his classmates as their senior year came to an end. Since then, a committee of about a dozen 1995 alumni has worked to secure enough donations to begin making awards.
"We knew it would take a while to raise the necessary money," Smith said. "Our hope was to do it by the time our fifth reunion came around. We are very glad to have succeeded in that pledge."
While the Class of 1995 Summer Service Fund is similar to many programs already established by other alumni classes, Smith said he was excited that his class brought its initiative to fruition faster than any of those classes.
"We are the youngest class ever to establish such a fund," he noted. "It makes us proud to have gotten this done so quickly."
Smith said he hopes the summer service fund will expand as the program matures. "I would like to see us eventually not only having a fund, but also providing a network that would help place students in meaningful service positions," he said.
Hand said he believes the fund will allow the class of '95 to positively influence future University students. "With the new millennium, we can renew our commitment to serving others," he said. "This is an important lesson for anybody to learn, so we'll keep trying to provide the opportunity on as grand a scale as possible."
Other alumni funds
Several alumni classes have set up funds and internship programs to assist students interested in pursuing a variety of service projects. Available resources include the Class of 1969 Community Service Fund, the Class of 1978 Foundation, the Class of 1991 Fund and the Project 55 Public Interest Program, which is sponsored by the Class of 1955.
Additional information on these volunteer opportunities can be found in the pamphlet "1999-00 Directory of Summer Service: Internships and Funds," published by the Student Volunteers Council.