Contrary to popular belief, Princeton Project 55, the independent alumni-led nonprofit started by members of the Class of 1955, did not have an apostrophe in its name. The “55” never identified the class, said Kenly Webster ’55, one of the founders, but the age at which many alumni are “winding down their careers” and can dedicate more time to volunteering.
That confusion soon should disappear. In May, the 20-year-old program changed its name to AlumniCorps.
“We felt we needed a pan-alumni name,” says Webster, chairman of the AlumniCorps board. “The name is an invitation and increases the possibility of attracting a larger audience of participants.”
Executive director Kathleen Reilly said that the name change acknowledges the program’s expansion and its success in involving alumni of many classes. Though the Class of 1955 is an integral part of AlumniCorps, fewer than one-third of the nonprofit’s board members are members of the Class of 1955.
Part of the group’s expansion is an initiative called Community Volunteers, aimed at alumni from classes in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Like the Princeton Project 55 Fellowship Program, which matches recent graduates with positions at nonprofits, the new program will help connect alumni to opportunities in the nonprofit sector, including board positions in Washington, D.C., and volunteer projects in Trenton.
“We believed that there was a wealth of talent from people who are beginning to slow down in their employment years and who could bring a wealth of experience and talent into the nonprofit world,” said AlumniCorps president Bill Leahy ’66.
AlumniCorps hopes the new program will attract a new crop of 55-year-olds — and alumni of other ages — who are ready to follow in the footsteps of the Class of ’55.“More and more classes coming back for their 30th or 35th reunions — which is around the age of 55 — are coming up with class projects that are essentially pro bono civic engagement [opportunities]. This is a way we can assist with that,” says Landon Jones ’66, a former board member. “There’s a lot of idealism out there that’s essentially untapped.”