Princeton announces center that aims to increase opportunity, education equity at school

Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity will broaden existing initiatives, likely to spur more

Princeton University will be able to greatly enhance numerous opportunity initiatives it is using to enable more students to find a pathway to success to, through and beyond the school, thanks to a generous donation from alumna Emma Bloomberg, the school announced Monday.

Thanks to the gift from Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the university will establish the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity at Princeton.

Princeton officials said the center will unite and strengthen the university’s access and opportunity initiatives for first-generation and lower-income applicants, while creating a model and providing resources for bolstering similar efforts at universities across the country. In some cases, the existing programs may double in size.

The center also may lead to the creation of new programs that broaden the initiatives’ outreach.

Programs that will be expanded and integrated into the new center include:

  • The Freshman Scholars Institute;
  • The Scholars Institute Fellows Program;
  • The University’s Program for Transfer, Non-Traditional and Veterans Students;
  • The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program;
  • The Princeton University Preparatory Program;
  • The Princeton Summer Journalism Program.

Khristina Gonzalez, associate dean of the college, director of programs for access and inclusion and director of the Freshman Scholars Institute, will serve as director.

Thanks to a generous gift from Bob Peck, Class of 1988, she will be known as the Bob Peck ’88 Director of the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity.

Emma Bloomberg, founder and CEO of Murmuration, has focused her career on expanding access to high-quality public education and to fighting poverty in New York City. Education is also a main area of funding for Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by Michael Bloomberg, and a key focus of his foundation is helping high-achieving, lower-income students attend selective colleges and universities. She is the daughter of Michael Bloomberg.

“My years at Princeton were tremendously formative and inspiring, and my closest friends to this day remain my classmates,” Emma Bloomberg said. “I am forever grateful to have experienced such an incredible opportunity, and I want young people across the world, regardless of race, class or geographic origin, to access the same resources and opportunities.

“But to achieve that vision, we know that getting students to college isn’t sufficient; we must do all we can to provide a more comprehensive support system for all who matriculate. This center will help make sure that students who are disproportionately affected by the current inequities in education are better able to access supports, resources and opportunities, and that lessons learned are shared broadly across the country.”

Emma Bloomberg said she felt Princeton has the programs in place to make an impact.

“Bloomberg Philanthropies is drawn to innovative partners who can break down complicated problems and share solutions that work,” she said. “I’ve been so proud to see Princeton University become a leader on the issue of education equity. Not only has Princeton launched initiatives that help identify talented students from diverse backgrounds, but they have developed programs and resources that help first-generation and low-income students thrive after they reach campus.

“I’m hopeful that this center will serve as a national model so that exceptional young people everywhere receive equal opportunities to make the most of their talents.”

The center will start as a virtual entity but eventually take physical space at the university.

Princeton President Chris Eisgruber said the center will be transformative for the university.

“Increasing educational access and opportunity is one of the university’s highest priorities, and support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will enhance and expand current programs that help more students thrive in college and beyond,” he said. “The Emma Bloomberg Center will make its insights and initiatives available to other institutions that share our commitment to increasing socioeconomic diversity on college campuses.

“I am deeply grateful to Mike Bloomberg for his generosity and to Emma for her leadership and commitment to the future of Princeton.”

Princeton has played a leading role in the national movement to increase socioeconomic diversity, access and inclusion in higher education, an effort bolstered by the university’s no-loan financial aid policy. Grant aid replaces loans to meet 100% of each student’s financial need, making it possible for most students to graduate from Princeton with little to no debt. This in turn expands the range of opportunities a graduate can pursue, without the weight of student loan repayments influencing their choices.

Since the no-loan policy was adopted in 2001, Princeton has increased the percentage of its student body that receives need-based federal Pell Grants from 6.2% in 2001 to 19.3% in the Class of 2024. And, among the students who were recently offered admission to Princeton’s Class of 2025, 22% will be first-generation college students, an increase from 17% last year.

Michael Bloomberg said the center falls in line with his daughter’s passions.

“Emma has dedicated her life to increasing educational opportunities for students who need them most, and our family and foundation are excited to expand on that work with a university so strongly committed to it,” he said. “As Princeton continues to raise the bar for what college access and success should mean, we look forward to seeing this new center help even more first-generation, lower-income students achieve their goals — and push our country forward on the path to equality and equity.”