volunteers load boxes of PPE

University contributions to Princeton town: 2020 summary

On behalf of Princeton University, Ryan Carney (left), senior safety specialist, Emergency Health and Safety; James McQuaid (second from right), assistant director for occupational safety, Emergency Health and Safety; and Kristina Tucker, University police officer, public safety officer, Department of Public Safety, donated more than 3,000 PPE items including gloves, masks and N95 respirators to Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes (second from left) at Dempster Fire School, Lawrence, in June 2020. The PPE equipment supported first responder and healthcare worker needs throughout Mercer County.

Summary of the many ways in which Princeton University currently contributes to and engages with the Princeton community. Submitted in a memo to the Princeton mayor and council on March 30, 2021.

Contributions to Princeton: Overview

Voluntary contributions to Municipality of Princeton

For decades, Princeton University has made voluntary contributions to the Municipality of Princeton. In late 2020, the municipality and the University agreed to a two-year extension of the existing contributions agreement that had been adopted in 2014. Under the new 2020 agreement, the University will contribute nearly $8.5 million to the municipality in the next two years. The agreement includes an $850,000 commitment to support the hiring of career personnel for the Princeton Fire Department and a $250,000 commitment toward the construction of a new storage facility for the municipal Department of Public Works.

Voluntary tax payments for properties that could be exempt

The University is the largest property taxpayer in the municipality, paying $9.5 million in taxes in 2020 (not including sewer payments). The $9.5 million includes about $6.4 million in voluntary tax payments for properties that are eligible for exemption from property taxes. For decades, the University has followed a practice of leaving many properties that are eligible for exemption — including graduate student housing, faculty housing, campus roads and some athletic facilities — on the municipal tax rolls, and voluntarily paying taxes on these properties.

COVID-19 community support

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, the University has worked with community partners to support local relief efforts. These efforts include the establishment of the $1 million Princeton University Relief Fund to provide direct financial support to community organizations and businesses. Additional initiatives include the Summer Food and Nutrition Program that provided 43,000 meals to food insecure individuals and families in the Princeton area, donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to local first responders, hosting community blood drives, and creation of an online tutoring program to assist area school children. Through the "Tigers in Town" initiative, students are supporting local businesses with group purchasing at scheduled in-store events.

Police, fire and emergency services

The University provides significant support for police, fire and emergency services in the community. The University Department of Public Safety (DPS) has a staff of 118 including sworn officers, non-sworn security officers, fire marshals, supervisory, dispatch and administrative staff. DPS operates 24 hours per day/365 days per year, and works in close collaboration with the municipal police department. In 2020, the Princeton Police Department needed to respond to campus only one time. University officers were called upon five times last year to provide support for the Princeton Police Department.

The University has supported the Fire Department with annual financial contributions and major capital gifts as well as by allowing its employees to serve as volunteers with the department during their paid work hours. Currently 34 University employees are associate members of the Princeton Fire Department, providing critical daytime support to the paid and volunteer members of the department.

Over many years the University has supported the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) through annual contributions, major capital gifts and in-kind services such as housing and telecommunications support.

The University collaborates regularly with the municipality and Mercer County to support emergency communications systems, including allowing cell equipment to be installed on its buildings, reducing the need for monopoles in town.

Contributions to important community organizations/initiatives

Apart from its contributions to the municipality, Princeton University remains committed to supporting initiatives that enrich the quality of life in Princeton. Over the years, the University has made cash and in-kind contributions to an array of local projects and nonprofit organizations. Also, the University has made substantial in-kind and financial contributions to the Princeton Public Schools (this is in addition to voluntarily paying taxes on exemption-eligible graduate student and faculty housing so that the school district receives tax revenue from University properties that could add students to the public schools).

The University has a long history of support for affordable housing. Most recently, the University contributed $50,000 toward the Habitat for Humanity project on Lytle Street.

Private roads and stransit system maintained by the University and used by the public

The University owns approximately five miles of private roads in the municipality of Princeton, such as Faculty Road and College Road, which are open to the public. In addition to paying taxes on these roads, the University maintains them at its own cost, including providing snow removal. The University also operates the Tiger Transit bus system, which is free and open to the public.

Education and outreach

As an educational institution, Princeton University runs numerous programs that welcome community members or are aimed primarily at area residents. Students at local high schools, including Princeton High School, can take coursework at the University; many different University initiatives provide tutoring to public school students; and the University runs a preparatory program for economically disadvantaged students in the area. Almost half of the participants in the Community Auditing Program are Princeton residents, participating in University classes for a modest fee, and thousands more attend hundreds of free public lectures offered each year at the University.

The Princeton University Art Museum, Richardson Auditorium and McCarter Theater, and the Lewis Center for the Arts provide a wide variety of arts programming. In addition, the University Chapel, the Music Department and various concert series offer musical performances year-round. The University owns the Garden Theater, which is operated by the non-profit Renew Theaters. Many of these groups have continued their programming virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteer activity and civic engagement

Princeton’s mission of teaching and research has an emphasis on service, and students volunteer with more than a dozen local community organizations. Some of this activity begins before they even take their first class at Princeton, through Community Action. The University has a long history of working with numerous organizations that seek to meet the needs of local residents and create a fully inclusive and supportive community.

The following pages provide detailed information on these and other contributions by the University to the community.

Contributions to Princeton

  • Voluntary payments (calendar year basis)
    • In 2020, Princeton University made a voluntary payment of $4.03 million to the Municipality of Princeton
      • This includes a $550,000 contribution to support the hiring of career personnel for the Princeton Fire Department
    • From 2014 to 2020, the University contributed more than $18.7 million to the municipality per a seven-year contribution agreement
      • The seven-year 2014-2020 contribution agreement included the following pledges to major community initiatives:
        • $500,000 toward construction of a new Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad facility on municipal land
        • $500,000 toward the purchase of fire-fighting apparatus
        • Donation of the University-owned Franklin Street Lot for municipal use
        • $90,000 toward a new FreeB vehicle
    • In late 2020, the municipality and the University agreed to a two-year extension of the 2014 contribution agreement
      • Under the new 2020 agreement, the University will contribute nearly $8.5 million to the municipality in the next two years
      • The agreement also includes a commitment to contribute $250,000 toward the construction of a new storage facility for the municipal Department of Public Works equipment
  • Taxes paid (calendar year basis)
    • In 2020, Princeton University paid $11.7 million in property and sewer taxes to Princeton; Princeton University is the largest taxpayer in Princeton
    • Of the $11.7 million property tax payment to Princeton, $4.7 million went to the Princeton Public Schools
    • Of the $11.7 million property tax payment, about $6.4 million was paid on property that is eligible for exemption under state law
  • The town’s AAA bond rating is partially based on the “stabilizing presence of Princeton University”
    • In rating the municipality, Moody’s cites “the stabilizing presence of Princeton University” and notes that “Princeton University (7,912 students) contributes to the municipality’s strong local economy.” Its AAA rating reduces the town’s borrowing costs below the costs of many other municipalities
  • Support to the community during COVID-19
    • The $1 million Princeton University Relief Fund provided direct support to the following organizations:
      • $400,000 to the Princeton Area Community Foundation COVID Relief Fund
      • $100,000 to the Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund coordinated by the Princeton Children’s Fund
      • $350,000 to launch the Princeton Small Business Resiliency Fund
    • Campus Dining efforts to combat food insecurity included:
      • Preparation of 21,000 meals distributed in Summer 2020 in collaboration with the Princeton Public Schools for students eligible for the free/reduced price lunch program
      • Preparation of more than 2,500 meals provided to Meals on Wheels in Summer 2020 for delivery to home-bound individuals in Princeton, East Windsor, West Windsor and Hightstown
    • Contributed $25,000 to Send Hunger Packing Princeton to provide weekend meals during Spring 2020 for delivery to students eligible for the free/reduced price lunch program
    • Hosted 10 community blood drives in Spring and Fall 2020 to support the American Red Cross, collecting over 400 units of blood to support up to 1,200 hospital patients
    • Provided thousands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items to local first responders
    • Provided space in the Fields Center and Jadwin Gym in January and February 2020 for vaccination clinic managed by the Princeton Board of Health. University staff volunteered to assist with staffing the vaccination clinic.
    • Provided Zoom webinar technology, and training for municipal staff, for use in Princeton Mayor-Council and board/commissions during the pandemic crisis.
    • Student led relief efforts have included:
      • The “Tigers in Town” initiative supports local businesses with group purchasing at scheduled in-store events
      • The “Tigers for Nassau” initiative provides assistance to local businesses seeking to improve their online sales and marketing capacity
      • The “Taste of Campus” initiative led by the Class of 2021 resulted in over 400 gift boxes with items from local businesses being delivered across the country
  • Contributions to community organizations/initiatives in 2020 included:
    • Princeton Public Schools School Planning Initiative: community engagement support
    • Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad
    • Princeton Fire Department
    • Brainfuse program at Princeton Public Library
    • Watershed Institute
    • Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP)
    • Princeton Human Services Commission Annual Backpack Drive
    • Princeton Arts Council Martin Luther King Day programs
    • Princeton Merchants Association 2020 Winter Market
  • Community resources
    • Garden Theater
      • The theater is owned by the University and operated by a separate non-profit organization, Renew Theaters
    • Labyrinth Books
      • The University helped to bring in, and maintain, an independent bookstore in Princeton
    • Nassau East
      • The University owns and manages properties around 185 Nassau Street which house a variety of local businesses
    • Princeton Station
      • The University maintains the Princeton Station complex that is served by the NJTransit Princeton to Princeton Junction “Dinky” rail line
    • The Garden Theater, Labyrinth Books, Princeton Station and the commercial and residential properties at Nassau East are all tax-paying properties
  • Police
    • The Princeton University Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Princeton Police Department (PPD) command staff monthly to review issues and plan for upcoming town and/or University events
    • Throughout the year PPD and DPS assist each other in criminal investigations, noncriminal cases, and/or service requests such as assistance in locating missing individuals, traffic control, traffic accidents, serving subpoenas, use of Spanish-speaking DPS officer for interview purposes, transportation from PPD to campus for students
    • In 2020, DPS received and responded to five such service requests from PPD
    • During 2020, DPS requested the services of PPD for one call where their services were needed
    • DPS filed 21 police co-operation reports with PPD
      • This type of report is filed when there is an interaction of any kind between PPD and Public Safety that is not investigated by DPS or does not result from a call into DPS jurisdiction
    • PPD is invited to participate, at no charge, in in-service training held on campus and sponsored by DPS
    • Upon request, DPS provides mutual aid to PPD for staffing large community events
    • PPD extended an invitation to utilize their firing range to DPS. The collaboration continued when DPS was able to assist with providing more storage for range training equipment
  • Emergency services
    • University staff participate in Princeton’s Local Emergency Preparedness Committee (LEPC)
  • Emergency communications systems
    • Mercer County’s countywide public safety communications systems continue to be supported at Fine Hall
    • Equipment and antenna support for PPD, PFARS and PFD is located at Fine Hall
    • University technical resources support PPD on an as-requested basis with radio communications-related questions or issues around operations or new equipment
  • Princeton Fire Department (PFD)
    • PFD Associate Member Program: University staff serve as Princeton Fire Department (PFD) volunteers during weekday work hours for which they are paid by the University
      • The program currently has 34 active members but was paused in March 2020 due to the pandemic
      • Individual members, if on-campus and available, were once again approved to respond beginning in November 2020
    • DPS leadership has regular meetings with PFD leadership and the director of Emergency and Safety Services to discuss collaboration, operations, response and emergency management
  • Engine 66 from the Princeton University’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) responds regularly to the Municipality of Princeton for fire calls as mutual aid to the PFD
    • PFD came to campus three times in 2020 for training
    • PFD responded to campus incidents 13 times in 2020
  • Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS)
    • DPS leadership has regular meetings with PFARS leadership to discuss collaboration, operations, response and emergency management.
    • University students are active volunteer members of PFARS
    • The University provides parking on campus, with accessible power, for a PFARS ambulance to facilitate response by student volunteers
    • The University hires PFARS as the primary EMS provider for stand-by requests at University events located within the Municipality of Princeton; the University reimburses the squad for this service. Only one stand-by event was held in 2020 prior to the cancellation of campus events due to COVID-19
  • Cell towers
    • There are eight wireless cell towers on University buildings
  • Maintenance of approximately five miles of roads in Princeton used by the public
    • Annual cost to the University is approximately $500,000
    • In September 2020, the University modified Lawrence Drive and College Road to include bicycle/pedestrian advisory lanes to create safer pedestrian access
  • Collaboration on local and regional planning issues
    • The University provided $250,000 to Mercer County to support planning for the replacement of the Alexander Street bridge over the Stony Brook and adjacent culvert bridge; this project was completed in fall 2020
    • The University contributed $500,000 to establish the community’s Transportation Trust Fund
      • In 2020, this fund supported an update and reprinting of the Princeton Community Bike Map
    • The University Office of Community and Regional Affairs maintains and updates semi-annually the Princeton Community Map posted at kiosks and bus stops in town and on campus
    • In September 2020, the University modified two primary, University-owned corridors used by graduate students to reach campus: Lawrence Drive and College Road. The bicycle/pedestrian advisory lanes installed on these roads create safer bike and pedestrian access, lower motor vehicle speeds, and will serve as a pilot for future treatments on other campus roads
  • Transportation
    • Tiger Transit is “free and open to the public” and annually provides more than 500,000 passenger rides in a normal year
      • As a result of the pandemic and reflecting national trends, Tiger Transit ridership dropped by almost 90 percent after March 2020
    • Following a comprehensive year-long planning process, the University launched a revised set of routes as part of its overall Campus Mobility Framework in September 2020. The new service plan includes four weekday routes, connections to Princeton Junction Station, a weekend shopper route, late-night on-demand service, and a point-to-point service for persons with temporary or permanent disabilities
  • Resource Recovery Program (formerly known as Surplus Equipment Program)
    • Access provided for area nonprofit organizations to the University Resource Recovery Program. Items provided free of charge to area nonprofits for their organizational use
  • Education outreach
    • Princeton High School (PHS) students who have exhausted coursework at the high school can take classes at the University; coordinated by PHS guidance department.
    • Tutoring for Princeton Public Schools students through Community House programs
    • Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP), a college prep program for economically disadvantaged students, is open to Princeton High School students
    • Princeton Center for Complex Materials (PCCM) holds special events open to the community including a Holiday Science Lecture and Marie Curie virtual events in 2020
    • Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) hosts Science on Saturday lectures in the winter months
    • Cotsen Children’s Library Program for Teacher Preparation “Time Travel 101,” young writers mentorship program One to One, escape room and other resources available virtually for children up to age 12
    • Many lectures and other intellectual and cultural offerings on campus are open to the public and almost always free of charge, with many continuing virtually in 2020
  • Community Auditing Program
    • Approximately 40% of the program participants each semester are from Princeton
    • The program includes special courses and lectures designed especially for auditors
  • Entrepreneurship and design thinking
    • The University’s Entrepreneurial Hub (eHub) is located at 34 Chambers St. The space provides a location for the exchange of ideas — a place where creative and talented entrepreneurs from the University and the community can come together to learn from one another, establish connections, and make contributions to the local and regional entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • Cultural offerings on campus (open until March 2020)
    • Princeton University Art Museum
      • Provides a wide variety of free educational and family programming
    • Theaters
      • McCarter and Berlind theaters are owned and financially supported by the University and operated by a separate, independent non-profit
      • Theater Intime provides academic year programming open to area residents in Hamilton Murray Theater
      • Virtual Princeton Summer Theater series, summer 2020
      • Additional theater, dance and visual arts programming available at other locations on campus, including 185 Nassau Street
    • Musical Performance
      • Performances at Richardson Auditorium and Taplin Auditorium
      • Summer Carillon Concerts at the Graduate College
    • Chapel
      • Weekly “After Noon” organ concerts
      • Special performances sponsored by the Chapel Music program
      • Veterans Day Observance Program (virtual in 2020)
      • Monthly Jazz Vespers services
    • Princeton University Concerts
      • Hosts annual music series featuring classical music performed by international professional musicians in Richardson Auditorium and across campus in traditional and non-traditional concert formats. Also presents a family concert series and special events
      • “Beyond the Music” programming includes the internationally-acclaimed free Live Music Meditations, a free annual Chamber Jam inviting amateur musicians in the community to jam with the professionals in the series, partnerships with the Princeton Garden Theatre and Princeton Public Library including film screenings and talks with the musicians
        • Due to the pandemic, a majority of the 2020 series pivoted to digital platforms, all of which were available to the public free of charge.
        •  “Collective Listening Project,” fifty weekly playlists curated for the public
        • “Sing For Today,” video series with Opera Star Joyce DiDonato
  • Community events on campus in 2020
    • Annual Community Works Program hosted on campus
    • Ten American Red Cross Community Blood Drives
  • Worship
    • Community members participate in Chapel services on a regular basis and on special occasions, continued virtually after March 2020
    • Community members also participate in services by religious groups associated with the University through chaplaincy programs and the Center for Jewish Life, continued virtually after March 2020
  • Athletics
    • Tickets to athletic events on campus are free or low-cost
    • Carnegie Lake open to the public for recreational ice skating in collaboration with Princeton Recreation Department
    • Princeton student-athletes undertake numerous volunteer efforts through the Princeton Varsity Club and as teams
    • Coaches and staff from Princeton Athletics supported Meals on Wheels by making deliveries to homebound individuals in the Princeton area during the pandemic
  • Campus Dining
    • Food donation program with Bentley Community Services to divert prepared food to food insecure families in the greater Princeton area
    • Campus Dining provided UNOW Nursery school with staff to assist with their meal programs
    • Through the Summer 2020 Food and Nutrition Program initiative the Campus Dining team produced and delivered over 43,000 nutritious meals to organizations in Princeton and Mercer County. This included more than 21,000 meals to Princeton Public Schools for students in the free and reduced lunch program and more than 2,500 meals to Meals on Wheels of Mercer County delivered to home-bound individuals in Princeton, East Windsor, West Windsor and Hightstown
  • Service and civic engagement
    • Students, faculty and staff volunteer their time and talents, virtually, online and with some exceptions as noted, in-person, throughout the academic year, summers and during the University’s annual Month of Service in January, with many non-profit organizations focused on the Princeton community including:
      • Arm in Arm, Corner House, Cornerstone Community Kitchen, Dillon Youth Basketball League, HomeFront, Princeton Fire Department, Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Princeton Healthcare System, Princeton Regional Schools (elementary, middle school, high school), Princeton Nursery School, Princeton Senior Resource Center, Princeton YMCA, SAVE Animal Shelter, YWCA Princeton
      • Faculty and staff donated 183 backpacks filled with school supplies as part of the annual Princeton Human Services annual Backpack Drive
    • Through the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES) faculty members and students link service and academic learning, by providing in-depth research and studies for, or engaging in service with, community-based or governmental organizations as part of a Princeton University course. ProCES was formerly known as the Community-Based Learning Initiative (CBLI)
      • In the past year ProCES courses included work with the Arts Council of Princeton, Eden Autism, Einstein’s Alley, Historical Society of Princeton, Mercer County Parks Commission, Princeton Nursery School, Princeton Young Achievers, and observations of the Council of Princeton 
      • During summer 2020, the program also provided “virtual” summer research interns to local organizations, including the McCarter Theatre Center, CONTACT of Mercer County, and the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF)
    • The Community Service Interclub Council (CSICC), a collaborative initiative of the eating clubs, coordinates volunteer activities undertaken by the clubs with numerous local organizations
    • The Pace Center for Civic Engagement undertakes a wide variety of programming in the local community including:
      • 539 first-year students engaged virtually in Community Action (CA), the small group orientation to service and learning with the local community. The 2020 virtual model of CA included a focused introduction to Princeton history, shared historical and contemporary online tours of the community, and virtual panels with local community organization leaders
        • All students were invited to participate in the Albert E. Hinds Memorial Tour: African American Life in Princeton
        • Students participating in the group focused on hunger attended a panel that included Robert Rabner of Send Hunger Packing Princeton
        • Students participating in the group focused on education and youth mentorship attended a panel that included Rose Wong from the Princeton Nursery School
  • Community House After School Academy (middle school) and Community House After School Enrichment, Gen1 and SAT Prep (high school) provide weekly after school programming focused on academic support and social-emotional literacy. (In-person January to March 2020; virtual March to December 2020)
  • Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD), leadership development and college prep (high school). (In-person January to March 2020; inactive for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic)
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Mercer County matches Princeton University volunteers with a little sibling from the Princeton Community (elementary and middle school). (In-person January to March 2020; inactive for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic)
  • Community House Big Sibs matches Princeton University students with a little sib (youth in grades 2-5) to support their literacy and social emotional development. During the pandemic, some have been communicating virtually
  • Community House Nursery School Project partners with Princeton Nursery School to send volunteers on a weekly basis to work with nursery school youth (nursery school). (In-person January to March 2020; inactive for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic)
  • Crossings Community House project: Effective dialogue and conflict resolution through small group sessions (middle and high school). ( In-person January to March 2020; inactive for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic)
  • PEEK: Princeton Engineering Education for Kids, elementary and middle school program (In-person January to March 2020; inactive for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic)
  • Community House Princeton hosts virtual family programming throughout the year such as family dinners and parent workshops that support social-emotional wellness and academic success (youth and their families)
  • Community House hosted its Youth Leadership Summit as a self-guided virtual experience. The Summit provides high school-aged students with the opportunity to enhance their leadership, academic and social-emotional literacy skills
  • Community House Generation Speak: building meaningful relationships for youth residents living in facilities of Princeton Community Housing. (In-person January to March 2020; inactive for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic)
  • Community House HIPS: Health Education in Princeton Schools sends volunteers into Littlebrook Elementary school to run interactive health information sessions. (In-person January to March 2020; inactive for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic)
  • Community House Academic Success Today matches volunteers virtually with students from the Princeton District for academic tutoring and mentorship through Corner House
  • Princeton Youth Enrichment (PYE) provides professionalism, internship/work readiness skills through interactive, virtual workshops with high school students
  • Student Volunteer Council (SVC) CONTACT Princeton provides student volunteers who answer phone calls for a local crisis hotline and the national suicide hotline
  • SVC Meals on Wheels has volunteers deliver hot and cold meals to seniors in the area
  • SVC Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center student volunteers, who in spring and summer 2020 lived locally, commit to volunteer in units such as the emergency room, pediatrics or neurology. Volunteers primarily work in roles that involve interacting with patients and helping the nursing staff
  • SVC Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad provides students who volunteer as Emergency Medical Technicians working with other squad volunteers or paid staff to respond to 911 emergency medical calls in the community.
  • Students volunteered time to assist with planning for American Red Cross Blood Drives for community, held on campus during spring and summer 2020
  • New initiatives developed in 2020 in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and community needs, ranging from food insecurity to educational support to racial injustice:
    • The Summer Food and Nutrition Program is a collaboration in summer 2020 with Princeton University’s Campus Dining and the Princeton Public Schools to provide meals for at-risk families, children and individuals
    • Princeton Online Tutoring Network (POTN) is a free online tutoring resource introduced in summer 2020 and in direct response to the disruption to academic progress caused by the suspension of in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in the Princeton Regional School District were matched with and tutored by Princeton University students, staff and faculty
    • Princeton RISE (Recognizing Inequities and Standing for Equality) is an anti-racist grant initiative, introduced in summer 2020, matching community partner racial justice projects with Princeton University students’ interests and skills. University students learned from and completed projects with the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, Princeton Mutual Aid, Princeton Public Library, Princeton Public Schools and the YWCA of Princeton