February 5, 2020

101: Fund Celebrates 50 Years of Scholarships for PHS Students

MAKING COLLEGE POSSIBLE: Helping Princeton High School graduates in need of financial assistance for college, the 101: Fund is planning a 50th Anniversary Party on Saturday, March 21 at Prospect House on the Princeton University campus. New 101: board members, from left, are Lynda Dodd, Karen Reid, and Carrie Elwood. (Not pictured: Patti Lieberman.) (Photo courtesy of 101:)

By Donald Gilpin

The 101: Fund, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping Princeton High School (PHS) graduates in need of financial assistance for college, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Saturday, March 21 with a party at Prospect House on the Princeton University campus, featuring music by the Franklin and Alison Band.

Since its inception in 1970, 101: has contributed millions of dollars to hundreds of students going on to colleges throughout the country. Founded by a school secretary and operating as the Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation until 2008, 101: awards scholarships based on need with the goal of reducing the gap between the growing costs of attending college and students’ resources from family savings and financial aid packages.

“At a time when there’s a lot of bad news out in the world, this is good news,” said 101: Fund Board President Jennifer Jang.

Daniel Hanna, 2016 PHS graduate now a computer engineering major at The College of New Jersey, described 101: as “a loving organization that wants to see my success, a beacon of encouragement for me to look towards throughout my academic pursuits.”

He continued, “101: assisted me by providing a stepping stone towards dealing with the strong financial burden that is often associated with higher education. This allowed me to focus my attention on the academics related to obtaining my degree, instead of worrying about the price tag that is attached.”

Jeff Lucker, PHS history teacher since 1969 and longtime 101: board member, described some of the unusual qualities of the 101: organization. “First there is the reward that comes from being able to make college possible for students who may not have even considered it due to their financial circumstances, often being the first in their family to attend,” he wrote in an email. “It is so gratifying to attend the small ceremony we have at the year’s end when we confer the awards and see the faces of the recipients, often some of my own students, and their families.”

Jang noted that 101: has been a group effort for many decades with “a history of helping one another to do things that none of us could do alone. I’m impressed by the partnership between community, school, and local businesses as well.”

She added, “It feels good that this institution still thrives, because it’s needed. Many students find it hard to go to college, not because they’re not studying or succeeding, but because they can’t afford it.”

Money for the 101: annual awards is raised throughout the year through a direct mail campaign to all parents and longtime 101: supporters, the spring fundraiser, and through other events throughout the year. The 101: Student Auxiliary, a PHS student group, raises money through a variety of efforts, including a popular spring talent show featuring comedy, music, and gymnastics. 

The 101: Fund Scholarship Awards are presented in June to graduating seniors who applied in the spring through the PHS Guidance Office.

The 101: Fund disperses about $80,000 to qualifying students each year, with each recipient receiving up to $10,000 total, the amount spread out evenly over four or, in the case of community college, two years.    

The 101: Fund supports a total of about 65 students at a time, checking in and distributing ongoing funds each year. Through its mentoring program, established six years ago, the 101: Fund is also available to troubleshoot and work with the PHS graduates in their colleges when necessary. 

Primarily for Mercer County Community College students who are part of the 101: Fund program, the mentoring program “is amazing,” said Jang. “Money is not enough,” she added. “We match students with adults in the community — for advice, sometimes for transportation, for any needs those students might have in navigating college.”

Jang pointed out that 101: is a 100 percent volunteer-run organization with no paid staff. “It’s a fantastic, 21-person board powered by people who give their time in so many ways,” she said. “I’m very grateful.”

Lucker emphasized the dedication of his fellow board members. Referring to the French political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville, who, on visiting this country in the 1830s remarked on the spirit and practice of volunteerism, Lucker noted, “It has been a rewarding experience for me to get to know other board members, a remarkable group of people who already have very busy and committed lives, but who have chosen to make this added contribution. In addition to monthly board meetings, many members have put in countless hours by mentoring the awardees, interviewing prospective candidates, and in many other tasks necessary to make the organization function.”

Among many testimonials on the 101: website, the parent of a 2015 PHS graduate wrote, “This money will truly make a difference for M. to actually be able to afford to attend Montclair State. I cried for an hour when I heard how generous the scholarship was. It is so hard as a parent to ask your child to push forward for their goals and then not be able to afford the school they really wanted to go to. So a real heartfelt thank you to make M.’s dream come true.”

And a 101: scholarship recipient at The Laboratory Institute of Merchandising College in New York City wrote, “Everybody has a dream. I’m living mine. thanks to the support from 101:. I am now the first in my family to attend college.”

Visit fund101.org to buy tickets for the March 21 celebration or to make a donation to the 101: Fund.