Princeton-Blairstown Center – Press Release
January 10, 2013
PRINCETON, NJ – Throughout its history, Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) has been an independent non-profit corporation, or has been sponsored by such an organization, while maintaining a close relationship with Princeton University. Its mission-enabling relationship with the University will continue after July 1, 2013, when PBC expects to complete various structural and governance changes.
In 1995, PBC undertook steps to become a “supporting organization” of the University, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, and has, since that time, maintained that status by being controlled by the University. After July 1st, PBC will cease being classified as a supporting organization, thereby allowing it to freely pursue its mission through adventure-based experiential education without the inhibitions imposed by IRS and University expectations of a supporting organization.
The transition is being managed in a cooperative way by the leadership of PBC and the University, with expectations that PBC will maintain access to significant University resources, as it pursues its vision for the future. Both organizations are committed to honoring the historic ties between them. “I don’t foresee any time in the future when ties to the University and [its] alumni will not be strong,” said Ev Pinneo ’48 (a Trustee of PBC and a former Executive Director). “We anticipate a growing opportunity for University student interaction with those we serve, in building their self-confidence and introducing them to the excitement of learning. Both the youth we serve and the University students are beneficiaries of this mutual experience.”
“This is an exciting time for us,” said Wardell Robinson-Moore, PBC’s Executive Director. “We are serving more students now than ever before and are looking forward to expanding our programs even more in the coming years.”
While PBC welcomes many different types of groups to Blairstown, its 263 acres of pristine forest in the northwest corner of New Jersey near the Delaware Water Gap, its focus since its founding has been on working with underserved urban youth. Complementary to its work at the Blairstown site in northwestern NJ, PBC has developed an In-School program that deploys trained facilitators to schools in Trenton and East Harlem for once-a-week non-cognitive instruction in the classroom using its Social and Emotional Learning curriculum-based programming.
Princeton-Blairstown Center was conceived in June of 1908 when a group of Princeton students took 30 boys from Philadelphia to the Jersey shore to instill in them higher ideals of health and character. Since that time, Princeton-Blairstown Center has grown, having changed its name and location several times, but it still adheres to the guiding principles established over a century ago.
While many educators now believe that non-cognitive skills (like self-control, interpersonal skills, self-confidence and character) are all essential ingredients to the success of children not only in academic settings but also more broadly in life, this philosophy has been central to PBC’s programs since its founding. Many individuals involved with PBC feel passionately about the organization for this reason. Larry Handerhan, a recent alumnus of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School’s master’s program and a member of PBC’s Board of Trustees, said “I was drawn to PBC because the organization is committed to pioneering creative and innovative strategies to address large scale inequities. Today’s urban youth face enormous challenges. While no single intervention will be sufficient, adventure-based and social and emotional learning are exciting tools in this fight.”
Last year, PBC served nearly 4,000 participants through its Blairstown and In-School programming. It is currently serving 375 students through its weekly In-School programming, which partners with six schools in Trenton, NJ and New York City. Its Blairstown program reaches young people from four states and the District of Columbia, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. It serves public schools, independent schools, community based organizations, young people in residential foster care and juvenile justice programs, homeless youth, religious groups and Princeton University programs. Participants come to Blairstown to strengthen their leadership, teamwork, conflict resolution and community building skills. Many groups return year after year.
Bruce Easop, president of the Princeton University Undergraduate Student Government (USG) says of his organization’s experience at Blairstown, “Hosting our annual retreat at Princeton-Blairstown Center has allowed the USG to unplug and escape the rush of campus in order to focus on team building and planning for the year ahead. Each year we find that our most productive members are among those who attended our retreat at PBC because this time really helps bring our organization closer together.”
Luis Genao, principal of Global Neighborhood Secondary School in East Harlem says of his school’s partnership with PBC: “From the beginning the Princeton-Blairstown Center has been our willing partner, our school-in-the woods. The partnership started from shared core beliefs and practices; practices that we believe will support our middle school students in becoming highly effective adults. Together we strive to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of our diverse group of learners, including historically low-performing over-age students, English language learners, and students with learning disabilities. Together we worked to serve, to energize, to guide and to dream.”
For further information please contact Isabel Zisk, Transition Director, Princeton-Blairstown Center (609-258-3347)