February 17, 2021

Princeton Perks Created as “Win-Win-Win” For Schools, Local Businesses, Consumers

By Donald Gilpin

Bolstering support for school programs and at the same time promoting shopping and dining at more than 40 establishments around town, Princeton’s public elementary schools have teamed up to create Princeton Perks, a discount card program open to everyone.

Organized by the schools’ PTOs, the program is designed as a “win-win-win” for businesses, who would see a boost in customers; shoppers, who get a special deal when they spend their dollars locally; and the PTOs and schools, who raise much needed funds to support students and teachers.

“We pride ourselves on being a strong community, taking care of each other,” Littlebrook Elementary School PTO Co-Presidents Sonja Ernst and Kati Dunn wrote in an email.  “Princeton Perks’ initiative is an excellent example of how we keep standing together, beyond individuals, beyond individual schools, and beyond single businesses. We are one town working together.”

Anyone may purchase a Princeton Perks card for $25 by visiting princetonperks.com, and then selecting their neighborhood school’s portal. Cards will be available for purchase through February 28, 2021 for use through December 31, 2021.

Cards will also be available at special Princeton Perks booths in Palmer Square on the next two Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m. and at the Princeton Shopping Center on the next two Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Most businesses offer cardholders 10 percent off. The Princeton Perks website includes an up-to-date list of participating restaurants and retailers, and further details on the deals offered. The Princeton Perks logo is displayed in shop windows or near the register of participating businesses.

During the pandemic the Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook, and Riverside PTOs, like many other nonprofits, have not been able to hold their usual in-person fundraisers this year. 

“For us at Community Park (CP), unfortunately fundraising has really flatlined for the year, and we have a whole range of needs,” said Amalie Leano, a CP parent and initiator of the discount card. “We saw that our beloved businesses were struggling too. We wanted to mobilize an army of public school families to shop and eat at local businesses again and again this year.”

Proceeds from the sale of the Princeton Perks card will go towards programs that provide extra school support for the many families that need assistance for school supplies or for after-school or summer programs, to reimburse teachers for out-of-pocket expenses, and to make sure students are able to enjoy some of the special arts and culture programming that has traditionally been a signature experience for each grade. 

Leano described how the idea for a discount card program to boost fundraising “had been percolating in my mind for a couple of years.” She enlisted a core group of parents, who realized that in facing the increased challenges of the pandemic it would be valuable to involve all the elementary schools.

“We all helped in doing the outreach and partnering with businesses in town,” she said. “Each school contributed in a different way, also creating the website we have and the design work.  It’s been a fun outlet for the parents to be able to sink our teeth into something that feels like it’s really going to make a difference for the town.”