Birdview of the University with trees and various buildings

University contributions to Princeton municipality: 2023 summary

A 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 Feb. 21, 2024.

Contributions to Princeton: Overview 

Voluntary contributions to Municipality of Princeton 

For decades, Princeton University has made voluntary contributions to the Municipality of Princeton. In January 2024, the University announced contributions of $50 million over five years to the municipality and community organizations, including to support property tax relief for eligible low and middle-income residents. The anticipated contributions include a total of $28.2 million over five years in unrestricted funding to the municipality and an additional $11.35 million to support specific projects related to mass transit, infrastructure repairs and improvements, acquisition of emergency equipment, costs related to fire department personnel, construction of municipal facilities, and emergency housing. 

The 2024 framework also includes contributions totaling $300,000 over three years to Housing Initiatives of Princeton to provide rental housing assistance, $500,000 over five years to 101:Fund to support college scholarships for low-income Princeton High School graduates attending schools other than Princeton University, and up to $10 million to a non-profit fund to provide property tax relief to eligible low and middle-income residents. 

Tax and sewer payments 

The University is the largest property taxpayer in the municipality and the second largest in Mercer County, paying $7.7 million in property and sewer taxes for properties in the Municipality of Princeton in 2023. 

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 111 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. 

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 25 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. The University has a long history of support for affordable housing. 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, and continues to make, substantial in-kind and financial contributions to the Princeton Public Schools. 

Private roads and transit 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. The University maintains them at its own cost, including providing snow removal. The University also operates the all-electric TigerTransit bus system, which is free and open to the public. 

Education and outreach 

As an educational institution, Princeton University offers 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 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, and the Matthews and Berlind Theaters that are operated in cooperation with the non-profit McCarter Theater Center. 

Princeton Garden Theater front

The University owns the Princeton Garden Theater movie theater in town, which is operated by the nonprofit Renew Theaters.

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 list provides detailed information on these and other contributions by the University to the community.

Contributions to Princeton 

Voluntary payments (calendar year basis)

  • In 2023, Princeton University made a voluntary contribution of $5.15 million to the Municipality of Princeton. This includes a $150,000 contribution to support costs related to career personnel for the Princeton Fire Department.
  • In 2023, Princeton University made a voluntary contribution of $2.75 million to Princeton Public Schools. This includes a $500,000 contribution to priorities identified in the district’s recent strategic planning process 

Taxes paid (calendar year basis)

  •  In 2023, Princeton University paid $7.7 million in property and sewer taxes to Princeton; Princeton University is the largest taxpayer in Princeton. Of the $7.7 million property and sewer taxes paid, $2.8 million went to the Princeton Public Schools.

The town’s AAA bond rating is partially based on the presence of Princeton University

  • In rating the municipality, Moody’s notes that Princeton University “anchors the local economy, is the municipality’s largest taxpayer, and makes significant contributions to the municipality’s budget annually.” 1 

Contributions to community organizations/initiatives in 2023 included:

  • Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad 
  • Princeton Fire Department 
  • Watershed Institute 
  • Princeton Human Services Commission Annual Backpack Drive 
  • Princeton Arts Council Martin Luther King Day programs 
  • Princeton Arts Council Porchfest 
  • Joint Effort Safe Streets 
  • Paul Robeson House 125th Birthday Celebration 
  • Princeton Housing Authority Summer BBQ 
  • YWCA Princeton 

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 helps to ensure there is 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 


  • The Princeton University Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Princeton Police Department (PPD) command staff meet to review issues and plan for upcoming town and/or University events. 
  • Throughout the year PPD and DPS assist each other in criminal investigations and noncriminal cases. 
  • PPD and DPS assist each other by providing services when additional assistance is requested, such as assistance in locating missing individuals, traffic control, traffic accidents, serving subpoenas, use of Spanish-speaking DPS officers for interview purposes, transportation from PPD to campus for students.  In 2023, DPS received and responded to seven such service requests from PPD. 
  • During 2023, DPS requested the services of PPD for six calls where their services were needed. 
  • DPS filed 39 police cooperation reports with PPD in 2023.  This type of report is filed when there is an interaction of any kind between PPD and DPS 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. 
  • DPS provided PPD with emergency entry tools, which are primarily used by law enforcement for emergency entry into buildings or rooms when normal entry methods aren't possible. Throughout the year both agencies participated in joint training for the use of this tool. 
  • In April 2023, a multi-agency tabletop exercise was conducted on the University campus with representatives from DPS, Princeton Police, West Windsor Police, and Plainsboro Police in attendance. The exercise focused on active shooter response with multi-agency coordination. In the Spring of 2023, Princeton Police was invited to participate in joint defensive tactics training led by David Kahn, a graduate of the class of '94. 
  • In the summer of 2023, DPS and PPD jointly organized a range day for senior administrators from both agencies where PPD provided training to DPS on emergency entry techniques. 
  • In October 2023, Princeton Police attended Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) hosted by DPS on campus. This cooperative 40-hour course was offered through the CIT New Jersey Center of Excellence, and held in cooperation with the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, the Mercer County Division of Health, and the CIT-NJ Training Unit. o Upon request, DPS provides mutual aid to PPD for staffing large community events, protests, and demonstrations. 
  • PPD extends an invitation to utilize their firing range to DPS. DPS has contributed funds towards improvements at the firing range and also provided funding for training equipment. 
  • During 2023, DPS collaborated with PPD on three community events off-campus. o University staff participate in Princeton’s Local Emergency Preparedness Committee (LEPC) 

Emergency Communication 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 PFD volunteers during the weekday from 8am to 4pm for which they are compensated by the University.  The program currently has 25 members in active status. 

 Members responded to 45 calls in 2023. These responses were with full crews. 

 Members logged a total of approximately 180 hours in program activities that included response, training, and meetings. 

  • 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 Princeton for fire calls as mutual aid to the PFD. o PFD came to campus 4 times in 2023 for training. 
  • PFD responded to campus incidents 43 times in 2023. 

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 makes available parking on campus, with accessible power, for a PFARS ambulance to facilitate response by student volunteers. 
  • The University hires PFARS for stand-by requests at University events. PFARS was compensated for 66 EMS standbys during the calendar year of 2023. 

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 

Collaboration on local and regional planning issues

  • 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. 


  • Tiger Transit is “free and open to the public” and annually provides more than 500,000 passenger rides in a normal year. TigerTransit has resumed full service levels, and as of Fall 2023, ridership has outpaced pre-pandemic levels by 30 percent. 
Tiger bus in Princeton University

The University's electric-vehicle TigerTransit shuttle system is free and open to the public.

  •  TigerAccess, a point-to-point reservable service for persons with temporary or permanent disabilities, continues to provide about 20 rides per day and is available to the University community and visitors. 
  • In August 2023, the University commissioned the last of its 17 new electric TigerTransit buses, and in October 2023 opened its new primary charging facility in West Windsor. Each bus is 35-feet in length, seats 26 passengers and accommodates 18 standees, includes two wheelchair positions with one automated wheelchair securing device, 14 USB chargers, automated voice announcements for stops, and an air cleaning device to reduce exposure to airborne viruses. There is an additional on-campus charging facility to Faculty Road. When its last remaining diesel shuttles are retired in early 2024, Princeton University will be the first Ivy League school to complete a full transition to zero emission transit vehicles, and among the first operations to do so in the United States. 
  • In October 2023, the University welcomed over 70 attendees from more than 20 public transit agencies and universities—including local partners at New Jersey Transit, SEPTA, and Montclair State University—for a peer exchange and open house event to share learnings and best practices for electric transit operations. 
  • Princeton University participates in the Mercer County Coalition of Coordinated Transportation, a gathering of representatives from local municipalities, the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association, and NJ Transit. The Coalition is part of an effort to coordinate Human Service Transportation and public transportation services in Mercer County. 
  • The TigerTransit network includes real-time, next-bus arrival screens at 13 stops. 
  • In 2023 the University expanded its Enterprise Carshare fleet as part of a broader suite of programs and services designed to support car-free life at the University. The fleet of 17 vehicles provides between 800 and 900 trips per month. 
  • In Fall 2023, the University introduced restricted areas and hours of operation for Personal Electric Devices (PEVs). Despite extensive public engagement throughout the Fall 2023 semester, compliance with the policy was low. As a result, the University moved to restrict all operation, charging, and storage of PEVs (e.g. electric scooters) on campus effective January 25, 2024. 

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 
  • Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) hosts Science on Saturday lectures in the winter months (currently held virtually) 
  • 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 

Community Auditing Program

  • Approximately 50% 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

  • Princeton University Art Museum

 Art@Bainbridge gallery 

 Art on Hulfish gallery 

 Campus Art 

 Art Museum Store on Palmer Square 

 Provides a wide variety of free educational and family programming 

  • Theaters

 McCarter Theatre Center 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 

 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 Concert Series” organ concerts : a weekly opportunity for the Princeton Community to enjoy performances at the Princeton University Chapel by various local, national, and international organists. 

 Monthly “Jazz Vespers” service: an inclusive experience of poetry, music, and quiet centering. 

 Special performances sponsored by the Chapel Music program including organ concerts as well as performances featuring the University Chapel Choir and visiting musicians 

 Veterans Day Observance Program in Princeton Chapel held in coordination with Spirit of Princeton 

 Monthly “Sound Journey” event offers composed and improvised music for meditation, contemplation, and prayer. 

  • Princeton University Concerts

 Hosts annual music series featuring classical music performed by international professional musicians in Richardson Auditorium and across campus 

 New initiative, “Admit All,” providing heavily discounted or free tickets to low-income communities, including the Senior Resource Center 

 “Healing with Music” conversation/concert series addressing the intersection of music with topics such as HIV/AIDS, mental health, and leukemia (most recently featuring Jon Batiste & Suleika Jaouad). As an extension of the series, PUC partnered with the Office of Community Affairs to host a campus Be the Match Bone Marrow Registry Drive; book clubs at the Princeton Public Library; embroidery workshops at the Arts Council of Princeton; and ongoing dance classes for Parkinson’s patients at the American Repertory Ballet. 

 Live Music Meditation series 

 “Meet the Music” family concerts, including programs for neurodivergent audiences 

 “Do-Re-Meet: Social Events for Music Lovers” (speed-friending, LGBTQ+ Mingle, speed-dating) 

 Annual Chamber Jam inviting amateur musicians in the community to play music together 

 Music-related film screenings at the Princeton Garden Theatre 

 Free online library of music videos and conversations with musicians, and a “Collective Listening Project” of over 60 playlists curated for the public by prominent musical figures 

  • Princeton University Library (PUL)

 PUL exhibitions are free and open to the public. 

 In Spring of 2023, PUL opened the “Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory” exhibition in the Milberg Gallery in Firestone Library, curated by Autumn Womack, associate professor of English and African American Studies and Jennifer Garcon, Librarian for Modern and Contemporary Special Collections. Over the span of 15 weeks, the exhibit attracted nearly 9,000 visitors and featured 45 public and private tours and classes. 

 The Morrison exhibition also anchored a series of programs across the University campus that were available to the public. These included an art exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge; sold-out performances responding to Morrison’s work presented by McCarter Theatre and Princeton University Concerts; a landmark symposium that reflected on Morrison’s relationship to the archive; an exhibition in Cotsen Children’s Library featuring the children’s books written by Morrison and her son, Slade; and a spring lecture series. 

Sculptures of Alison Saar

The Princeton University Art Museum's Art@Bainbridge hosted the exhibit last year called The Cycle of Creativity: Alison Saar and the Toni Morrison Papers. 

Community events on campus in 2023

  • Four Community Blood Drives 
  • Veteran’s Day Ceremony in Princeton Chapel hosted in coordination with Spirit of Princeton 
  • Witherspoon Jackson Historical and Cultural Society’s Romus Broadway Photography Camp 


  • Community members participate in Chapel services on a regular basis and on special occasions. 
  • Community members also participate in services by religious groups associated with the University through chaplaincy programs and the Center for Jewish Life 


  • Tickets to athletic events on campus are free or low-cost 
  • Carnegie Lake open to the public for recreational ice skating (weather permitting) in collaboration with Princeton Recreation Department 
  • Princeton student-athletes undertake numerous volunteer efforts through the Princeton Varsity Club and as teams including the popular “Reading with the Tigers” program at Princeton elementary schools 

Campus Dining

  • Staff from Campus Dining produced and served meals at Cornerstone Kitchen in February and December, 2023 
  • Produce donated to TASK after reunions and commencement. 
  • In partnership with the Princeton Public Schools, Campus Dining supports the Garden State on Your Plate initiative in the four Princeton Public Schools elementary schools. 
  • Equipment was donated to Cornerstone Kitchen after closure of Butler Dining Hall. 
  • Starting in Fall 2022, the University partnered with local dining establishments to launch Pay with Points. This initiative allows students and employees to use their dining plan at 15 restaurants in town. From January 2023- December 2023, the university community spent $397,295 at local businesses. 

Service and Civic Engagement

  • Through the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES) faculty and students connect community engagement with their academic experience by partnering with non-profit, public sector, and non-governmental organizations in 70+ Princeton University courses during the academic year. 
  • In the past year ProCES courses, programming, and internships included locally-based work with: the McCarter Theatre Center, Council members Leticia Fraga and Leighton Newlin, Princeton Japanese School, Princeton Public Library, Arts Council of Princeton, The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, Princeton Recreation Department, Princeton Senior Resource Center, Dr. Melissa Marks at University Health Services, Sustainable Princeton, Princeton Human Services & the Human Services Commission, Arm in Arm Princeton, Princeton Historical Society, Lunaape (Delaware) Language Camp at the Institute for Advanced Study. 
  • 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: 
    • Nearly 650 first year students led by approximately 120 upperclassmen partnered with more than 125 campus and community partners in the Community Action program. • Students in this program staying in Princeton were given tours of the community conducted by Fern Spruill, former Community Partner-in-Residence, providing an introduction to Princeton history. Students were also invited to participate in the online Albert E. Hinds Memorial Tour: African American Life in Princeton. 
    • Students focused on sustainability partnered with Friends of Princeton Open Space. 
    • Students focused on social justice partnered with the Bayard Rustin Center. 
    • Students focused on education and youth development programming partnered with the Princeton Public School district, Princeton Senior Resource Center, Community House After School, Princeton YMCA, and Send Hunger Packing Princeton. 
  • Community House 
    • Provided academic and social-emotional literacy support services to the youth and families of Princeton. 
    • Community House Summer Camp took place in July and August 2023. Focusing on the performing arts, the camp culminated in a full-scale production of Disney the Lion King Jr. 
    • 2023 Youth Leadership Summit took place in December, 2023 and brought local high school youth to the Princeton University campus. The Summit provides the students with the opportunity to enhance their leadership, academic and social-emotional literacy skills. 
    • Community House After School Program offered academic support and enrichment activities to 30 middle and high school aged students. 
    • Academic Success Today, a collaboration between Community House and Corner House, matched Princeton University student mentors with 34 local youth participants. 
    • Volunteering at Princeton Nursery School continues to focus on providing Princeton University volunteers with opportunities to support PNS teachers. Young learners’ activity kits continue to be developed and distributed to Princeton Nursery School. 
  • Student Volunteers Council (SVC) CONTACT Princeton provides student volunteers who answer phone calls for a local crisis hotline and the national suicide hotline throughout Mercer County, including the Princeton community. o SVC Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center program, SVC Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) and SVC Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) continued to support the local Princeton community through the time, skills, knowledge and commitment of Princeton University student volunteers. Princeton University students participated in summer internships in the Princeton community through the RISE (Recognizing Inequities and Standing for Equality) and PICS (Princeton Internships in Civic Service) programs. Students learned from and completed projects with A4P, Lambent Data, Princeton Blairstown-Center, Princeton Public Schools, Climate Central, Institute for Citizens and Scholars, Princeton.

Community Engagement

  • The Office of Community and Regional Affairs participates in community events throughout the year including Community Night Out, Princeton Housing Authority Picnic, and Trunk or Treat 
  • In partnership with colleagues from across campus Office of Community and Regional Affairs support local youth through programs including the campus-wide School Supplies Drive and the Summer Youth Employment Program 
  • In 2023 two listening sessions that were part of the Princeton Community Master Plan process were held on campus in Frist Campus Center and at the fall Princeton University Farmers’ Market 
  • The Princeton University Farmers’ Market held in both the fall and spring brings local farm and food vendors to campus, giving small businesses the opportunity to sell their products to the campus and local community 
  • Artists from campus and the community collaborated to create Blooming: A Fiber Arts Display, which adorned campus and town in fiber artwork in May.
  • AlumniCorps, Princeton in Africa, Princeton Civil Rights Commission, Princeton Mutual Aid, Princeton Summer Journalism Program, Center for Supportive Schools, Housing Initiatives of Princeton, and internships associated with Princeton University departments.