Volunteers: The Princeton Committee of UNCF at 15

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

This is also the credo for the Princeton Committee of UNCF, an all-volunteer group of women that started with then-Princeton Mayor, Michele Tuck-Ponder, Princeton resident, Paula Gordon and other like-minded individuals who sought to change lives, one student at a time.

The committee raises and provides resources to deserving, talented and financially strapped students from the Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties. Each year, the committee raises money through special events to support their students. Some of the previous events hosted by the committee include jazz show, golf outings, food tasting and luncheon.

Over the years, the committee has evolved to include volunteers from areas beyond Princeton. The current Princeton Committee members include: Wanda Jackson, Louella Phillips, Barbara Bernard, Lisa Redmond, Michelle Roy and Rebecca White-Johnson. Their commitment and work has not waivered as they continue to support students with scholarships, many who are the first in their families to either go to college or complete college.

This year, The Princeton Committee of UNCF celebrates its fifteenth year, and has raised nearly $400,000 since inception to support 19 students with four-year scholarships of $5,000 annually. The women mentor the students to ensure that they have someone other than their parents to call on for emotional and personal support while they are in college.

Former & Current Members of Princeton Committee of UNCF Back row (L) to (R) : Louella Phillips, Michelle Tuck– Ponder , Wanda Jackson, Paula Gordon, Lisa Redmond & Barbara Bernard Front Row (L) to (R): Michelle Roy & Rebecca White– Johnson
Former and Current Members of Princeton Committee of UNCF Back row (L) to (R) : Louella Phillips, Michelle Tuck-Ponder, Wanda Jackson, Paula Gordon, Lisa Redmond and Barbara Bernard; Front Row (L) to (R): Michelle Roy and Rebecca White-Johnson

Tajah Best, a Princeton Committee of UNCF Scholarship recipient and 2015 graduate of Howard University said this of her scholarship and mentor: “A very significant factor that enabled me to get to and through college was being awarded the very generous scholarship through the Princeton Committee of UNCF for four years. Thank you so much for the support; it really means the world to me. This opportunity led to me being able to further my education and earn my degree. I am grateful to be a recipient of their generosity. To say that I am a college graduate is monumental. My mentor, Ms. Louella Phillips, was always there to provide assistance and gave me motivating words that kept me encouraged. She is very much appreciated.”

Since the group began awarding scholarships, they have seen 15 students graduate, a 100-percent success rate. Today, there are four students in the pipeline.

The current chair of the group, Wanda Jackson, shared this about the committee’s work: “It’s a labor of love for all of them to give back to our young people through education. It’s something tangible, as lives and communities are changed for the greater good.”