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          ‘I Give Because’: Annual Giving moves #ForwardTogether to keep Princeton thriving

          October 13th, 2020 / Annual Giving

          The Annual Giving campaign,?“Forward Together,” celebrates the individual reasons alumni give and recognizes the collective impact of giving. Through Annual Giving, alumni, parents and friends commit to realizing a transformational educational experience across generations.?

          “I don’t even know all the people that impacted my ability to come to Princeton,” said Eric Plummer ’10, who lettered for Princeton in track and field and is now an executive at Peerspace. “I give because the spirit of Annual Giving is what keeps this place not only alive but thriving.”

          Amy Solomon ’14, daughter of Robert Solomon ’82, grew up appreciating Princeton traditions, but it wasn’t until she enrolled that she claimed the experience for herself and discovered her path. As a junior, she asked then-Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman if she could interview her for a profile she was writing for journalism class.?

          “I did not really expect her to say yes, to be perfectly honest, but she wrote back and was like, ‘Absolutely. That sounds like fun,’” said Solomon, who’s now an executive producer on the HBO show,?“Barry.?“I think we met once a week that fall. She was so open and lovely with me. I was living the dream.”

          Annual Giving makes it possible for good ideas to grow. Kirk Robinson ’17 and Ben Sorkin ’17 were members of the Princeton team that built an electric Formula One style racecar. When they graduated, Sorkin applied those lessons to electric boat engines and founded Flux Marine, a company that develops zero emissions electric boat propulsion systems; and Robinson went to work at Rivian, designing electric trucks and SUVs.?

          “If you have an idea, Princeton is a school that allocates resources to let you figure it out,” Sorkin said. “I made a small prototype with some Princeton funding, and people loved it. I thought, ‘This?could be a company.’”

          It’s not just the resources, added Robinson, but the freedom: “At a lot of other places, its much more common for people to pick a path from a menu of options. But at Princeton, youre able to create your own path.”

          Tiffany Ko ’09 did just that. As a work-study student who volunteered at the electrical engineering lab, she was encouraged by a professor to shadow the grad students and take part in research. “It really opened doors for me,” said Ko, who’s gone on to make breakthroughs in pediatric treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Princeton gave me independence to learn at my own pace. I give because I think it’s important that other students get the same opportunity.”

          Annual Giving expands opportunity, and inspires the next generation of innovators and leaders who will tackle the most pressing societal issues. “You give with a grateful heart, in order to preserve the systems and opportunities that you enjoyed,” Plummer said. “We don’t think about it in the moment, but I think it’s really important just to do?what?you can?when?you can.”

          Unrestricted gifts to Annual Giving go directly into the University’s operating budget for the benefit of Princeton’s students, faculty and programs. These flexible funds allow the University to seize new opportunities, respond to unexpected challenges like remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and support a pioneering financial aid program that makes a Princeton education possible for all admitted students. The 2020-21 Annual Giving campaign concludes June 30, 2021.

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