A future reunion for a local cause
Written by Kate Fritzsche, MPA ’14
As part of our nature as a public service school, many WWS students are involved with community service in the areas surrounding Princeton. The graduate students at WWS have had an ongoing relationship with the Greater Donnelly Initiative (GDI) in Trenton, NJ for five years. GDI provides mentorship, gang-resistance, and homelessness/hunger services to disadvantaged youth in inner-city Trenton. We’ve partnered with them as tutors and mentors to the middle- and high-school students in their after-school programs. Graduate students at WWS have also put on an annual Service Auction each December, and for the past five years, it has benefited GDI. This past December, we raised over $39,000, which represents a major share of GDI’s annual operating budget.
Sam Clark and I are this year’s Community Service Co-Chairs of the Woodrow Wilson School Action Committee, our student government. On March 14, we paired with our Social Chairs to put on a fundraiser for GDI called “Woodrow Wilson 2033.” We were all assigned a classmate to come dressed as for a 20 year reunion at the Woo! Costumes ranged from the President of Mexico to an impoverished victim of 2029 government budget cuts. Favorites also included a prolific biographer of LBJ, a youth soccer coach and his many children, and the president of the University of Phoenix. We had a great time seeing where our classmates will go in the next 20 years, and we raised almost $550 for our programming with GDI this year. This money will allow us to fund upcoming activities with the students like a photography project and cooking meals together. We hope you’ll consider joining our volunteer efforts at GDI through direct mentorship and tutoring or through the Service Auction next fall!
Learn more about the Greater Donnelly Initiative:
The Greater Donnelly Initiative (GDI) supports community-driven initiatives for change in Trenton’s North Ward. Many youth in the Greater Donnelly neighborhood confront gang violence, broken families, the threat of homelessness, hunger, and drugs every day. There are few safe spaces for teenagers, in particular. Since its founding four years ago, GDI has sponsored after-school programs including group mentoring and tutoring for over 700 children and teenagers, and provided critical services for the entire community.
The Initiative is a 501c3 non-profit formed to build on the successes of the “Greater Donnelly Weed and Seed” anti-crime and community building drive spearheaded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant.
The Focus is on teenagers facing critical life choices. Many are deciding whether to stay in school – and are discouraged because they are so far behind they feel they must give up. GDI operates two group mentoring/tutoring centers for teenagers, one at the Trenton Housing Authority administration building at Southard and New Willow (called Choices) and one at the Princeton Deliverance Center (called Voices) at 301 Southard. GDI also organizes a food pantry at the Princeton Deliverance Center in Trenton, which is in constant need of volunteers.