A Gift of Belonging: KJJF Pledges 20 million dollars to Alma Mater Princeton University
As you might already know, the Kwanza Jones and José E. Feliciano Initiative (KJJF) is dedicated to closing the achievement gap in the United States to ensure Education, Entrepreneurship, Equity, and Empowerment for all.
How? By investing with intentional impact, or ensuring they align with the values of all the companies they work with and donate to.
But this time, Kwanza and José’s $20 Million pledge to their alma mater, Princeton University, took a different approach.
For them, it’s deeper than alignment. It’s holding Princeton accountable to take the necessary action for change.
Princeton: This Time It’s Personal
As the #1 National University, admission into Princeton is a dream for many. Rightfully so, the University is home to many successful leaders, such as John F. Kennedy, Michelle Obama, and Jeff Bezos to name a few.
Likewise, as proud, successful Princeton alums, Kwanza and José understand how transformative the Princeton experience has been in their lives and hope to ensure the same for all underrepresented students at the University.
You see, as black and brown students of the esteemed University, Kwanza and José know what the majority of the student body looks like and the challenges that underrepresented minorities face.
They’ve heard from their peers who express that they never felt like they truly belonged at Princeton. They know the feeling of walking around Princeton and seeing buildings named after Rockefeller, Forbes, and Woodrow Wilson, but...no one like them.
They know the deep history behind the campus walls that at one point in time would deny them access solely because of the color of their skin. And most recently, they know how it feels to be denied entry at a donor event because they don’t “look” like typical Princeton alums...even after donating $1mm.
When one door closes, write a letter and pledge $20million more.
It’s simple—Kwanza and José are committed to change. And the only way to create change at Princeton is through impact. They knew that they had to do more to ensure someone was looking out for all of the underrepresented students that felt like they didn’t belong. Princeton is committed to making a difference in the service of humanity, and Kwanza and José aim to strengthen its legacy by putting Princeton in a position to lead by example.
But aside from ensuring a better, more equitable tomorrow for students at Princeton, why else would KJJF commit to this donation – the first of its kind from a Black or Latino donor?
Investing in a Better Tomorrow
This historic gift to Princeton is more than a donation, it's an investment. It is an investment in not only Princeton's future but the future of humanity. Kwanza and José aim to change the statistics in order to pave the way for a more colorful future.
This $20M gift may have been the first of its kind, but it certainly isn’t intended to be the last. As you already know, Kwanza and José are forward thinkers and are committed to contributing to educational advancement. They hope their donation has a trickle-down effect and there will soon be plenty more donations by alumni of color who are committed to enhancing the future of not only Princeton; but tomorrow’s leaders at all institutions.
A New Normal
You see, the real goal here is not just to change Princeton, it’s to change the world. In 2020, Kwanza and José agree that we shouldn’t still have firsts, especially when it comes to equal opportunity.
Princeton is a reflection of what the United States once was, what it is, and what the United States could be. From a place of racial inequality to a place of equal opportunity.
In a perfect world, socioeconomic inequality and systemic racism wouldn't exist. Sadly, that is not our reality. Between unjust police killings and the inhumane treatment of ICE detainees, we are far from where we need to be as a nation.
Let’s challenge the past and recreate the future. Let’s make meaningful donations from POC the new norm. By changing the reality of today, we can make a new tomorrow where Black and Brown are valued on an individual and communal level.
Along with Kwanza and Jose’s generous donation will come residential buildings named after them—the first named after black and brown people in recognition of their gift to Princeton. All students of Princeton and the world deserve to feel heard, seen, and accepted.
This gift not only symbolizes the Power of Possibilities but also that people of color DO belong.
The $20 Million donation was not just a gift of money. This was a gift that is truly priceless: this was a gift of belonging.
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