20 Million Reasons Why: Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano’s Historic Princeton Donation
Do we got a problem?
Odds are, if you’re a #Real Kwanza Jones fan, you’d know that this phrase kicks off the chorus to my thought-provoking, activism-inspiring, public service announcement/ music video/song, Problem. In my song, I challenge society on righting its wrongs and combating the social injustices we still see today.
You see, I'm all about impact and positive change. I know that sometimes we need to give a boost to make sure things get done. I'm not one to see a problem and just walk away, whether it’s within my community, my companies, or society.
Now, the problem I'm addressing is one that is long overdue at my, my partner in business & life, José Feliciano, and my sister's alma mater...Princeton University. Through the Kwanza Jones and José E. Feliciano SUPERCHARGED Initiative (KJSI), we pledged $20 Million to make Princeton a better, more inclusive place.
If you’re a Boost Friend™ who’s up-to-date on all things SUPERCHARGED by Kwanza Jones, you might be asking: “Why?”
I wrote a Love Letter to Princeton that went VIRAL. I called out Princeton’s lack of action in removing racist former U.S. and Princeton President Woodrow Wilson’s name from campus buildings... So, why would José and I gift Princeton with $20 Million?!
I, Kwanza Jones, Pledge to Educate, NOT Retaliate
Well, if you’ve been in, what I call, the SUPERCHARGED by Kwanza Jones inner-circle, you already know toxicity and bitterness are simply NOT the way I roll. I'm all about solving problems... not exacerbating them. That's why I'm on a mission to boost a billion lives for the better, and I'm known as your Billionaire Boost Friend. My intention, and my job, is to empower everyone I come in contact with. And, I'm great at my job. When I do something, I do it BIG, or as I like to say... SUPERCHARGED. So, I looked at the Princeton "problem" of needing to be more diverse and inclusive as an opportunity to get better, not bitter.
I always operate from a place of gratitude. Which is why, though my time at Princeton, was not always perfect, I have always been grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow at Princeton.
José and I know it isn’t all positive for many underrepresented groups as there’s still a sense of doubt creeping throughout campus. After our unpleasant experience being turned away at a donor event because we didn’t fit the description of typical Princeton alums, we knew that something MORE had to be done.
We thought: “How can we further Princeton’s legacy AND create meaningful change for all past, current, and future students who are just like us?”
Representation Matters Most
For us, Princeton is the beginning of a love story—both for each other, and our love for Princeton.
When you walk around Princeton, you see buildings named after Rockefeller, Forbes, and (up until recently) Woodrow Wilson. We quickly realized that none of these buildings on campus are named after people who look like us. None of the influential people represented on campus have names that sound like ours.
Our beloved Princeton is not representative of all the brilliant minds that contributed to it.
Education is one of the four significant pillars in our grant-making organization, KJSI. That said, we are committed to ensuring that all students of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds are afforded the same opportunity to a great education.
But what happens when they get there and beyond? Will they feel seen, supported, represented, or will they feel like an outcast buried behind Princeton’s shadow?
A Year of Forward-Thinking
A Year of Forward-Thinking signifies Princeton’s campaign for the year 2020, and a perfect foundation for propelling our vision for the future of both Princeton and humanity.
This donation to Princeton is significant in numerous ways:
- It is the largest gift by underrepresented people of color to the University.
- The buildings being named will be the first buildings named after Black and Brown people in recognition of their extraordinary financial gift to Princeton.
- It symbolizes that underrepresented people of color DO belong at Princeton and the amazing opportunities that Princeton has to offer are for ALL
- It highlights the Power of Possibilities
Our gift is SO much bigger than Princeton. It is about the WORLD
Despite systemic barriers, everyone deserves the opportunity and access to education. They deserve representation. They deserve a voice.
We hope that after this gift, Princeton is not only a leader in academia but it is also a leader of change.
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