Michael Novogratz, a member of Princeton's Class of 1987, and his wife, Sukey Caceres Novogratz, of the Class of 1989, have given $4 million to establish a fund to support the University's Bridge Year Program. The three-year-old initiative enables newly admitted freshmen to defer enrollment and spend nine months serving a local community in another country.
The Novogratz fund is helping to increase the number of students who can participate in this signature program by sponsoring at least one student annually in each of Bridge Year's four service areas: China, India, Peru and Senegal.
During their experience, students live with a local family and are fully immersed in the community's language, customs and culture while they work on public service projects. The program aims to provide participants with greater international perspective and intercultural skills, an opportunity for personal growth, and a deeper appreciation of service in both a local and international context.
"Bridge Year participants are fine exemplars of 'Princeton in the service of all nations,'" said President Shirley M. Tilghman, referencing the University's informal motto. "The Novogratz Bridge Year Fund will help to ensure that our students can continue to take advantage of this transformative opportunity, and I am grateful to Mike and Sukey for their warm and generous support."
Since the program's launch in fall 2009, participants have built cleaner-burning stoves, tutored middle school students, assisted with vocational training, conducted health surveys, worked to combat human trafficking, and organized youth activities to promote democracy and human rights. To gain deeper cultural perspective they have attended local festivals, tried their hands at indigenous crafts, and visited historical and environmental places of interest.
The Novogratzes, who have lived abroad and serve on the boards of a number of civic service, arts and youth organizations, say they share the University's commitment to providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to function effectively within a global environment.
"Sukey and I believe that education in the 21st century must prepare students to be globally competent citizens who can lead and serve in a world where all cultures are increasingly interconnected," said Michael Novogratz, an economics major at Princeton who is now a principal and director with Fortress Investment Group, a global investment management firm based in New York. "Bridge Year is one way Princeton gives students an incredible learning experience, and helps prepare them for leadership on a global scale."
Sukey Novogratz, who majored in anthropology, is a member of the Association of Latino Princeton Alumni. She is a devoted supporter of the visual and performing arts, music education, international development, and research in neurological science. She is a director of the Joyful Heart Foundation, founded by actress Mariska Hargitay to address sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. She is also a director of The Kitchen, which helps support innovative artists in New York City by providing exhibition and performance opportunities.
Michael Novogratz is a trustee of New York University Langone Medical Center; founder and chairman of Beat the Streets Wrestling, a nonprofit seeking to expand and develop wrestling in the New York City Metropolitan area from the youth through the Olympic level; and a director of the Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. He also serves on the board of the Hudson River Trust and Jazz Foundation of America.
The Novogratzs are longtime supporters of Princeton Annual Giving, a source of unrestricted funds for the University. Their Bridge Year gift was part of the University's Aspire campaign, which concluded on June 30 and raised $1.88 billion.