Empathy, Empowerment, and Equity

Our 20th anniversary in 2021 is an occasion to celebrate the value of service to students’ learning. We are rewarded in witnessing how students learn more about themselves, their own communities, as well as communities different from their own. We are inspired by the critical questions students ask when they examine how best to respond to the needs of the world, to the needs of others, and to meet their own needs.

Unprepared volunteers and sporadic engagement have, at times, been more of a hindrance than a help to communities; and as we approach our 20th, it is imperative that we address the harm that can be done through service. In our work together, undergraduate students, graduate students, community partners, and campus partners have taught us that the service we engage in together, when at its best, is value-driven, relationship-based, and a social responsibility. We aspire to embrace these teachings in our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan for the Pace Center.

Since Princeton University’s Orientation program began in 2016, we have significantly expanded first-year students’ awareness of service and leadership, and, following the University’s strategic priorities, we have begun a new program to connect sophomore students’ service experiences to their academic pathways. These efforts have called on us to develop partnership principles and student learning outcomes, two frameworks that articulate our understanding of how to do service well, so that we can responsibly increase students’ engagement with communities.

In this strategic plan, we will continue to support students’ learning from service, by supporting the role of community partners as educators, by putting more focus on the historical and social context of students’ service, by providing more opportunities in advocacy and activism, and by developing a broader reflection framework. These goals center our concern for racial injustice and foster a civic culture of engagement.

As a part of Princeton University, we know that how we relate to one another is as important as the knowledge we hold. We aspire to use our power at Princeton to build a responsive community from understanding and acceptance rather than exclusion. We aspire to contribute to the greater good and to value the dignity of all.

We are grateful for your support of the Pace Center and we look forward to continuing our learning with you.

In service, 
Kimberly de los Santos
John C. Bogle '51 and Burton G. Malkiel *64 Executive Director

Our Goals

Four goals, influenced by the strategic goals put forth in the 2020-2025 Campus Life Strategic Plan, will guide our work’s direction. The student learning outcomes and our partnership principles that resulted from the implementation of our previous strategic plan will inform these goals, as will the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s framework for diversity and inclusion.

We also continue to draw from the University's strategic planning work, in particular the positive learning spiral developed by the Service and Civic Engagement Self-Study Task Force for its 2015 report. This learning spiral demonstrates how service can support students in learning why to serve, how to serve and to learn from serving. Our goals in this plan aim to do the same. Cultivating equity by including community partners in planning and decision making processes undergirds all of our goals. We then aim to strengthen students’ understanding of ‘why to serve’ through enhancing awareness of the historical and contemporary structures and norms that form the context for their service. We can enhance students’ understanding of ‘how to serve’ through enhanced support for advocacy and activism. And, we can deepen learning from service through the development of a framework for reflection.

Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

As we approach our 20th anniversary at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, it is imperative that we acknowledge the harm that can be done through service. Unprepared students can be more of a hindrance than a help to communities. Sporadic meetings do not support relationship-building with youth, and existing structures do not create enough opportunities for communities to move forward with their own solutions.

We recognize anti-racism as actively working against the structures and processes that disadvantage Black and Indigenous people, as well as Latinx and Asian-Americans. The Pace Center can combat systemic racism by recognizing the harm that can be done in the name of service, and by emphasizing service that not only repairs damage to communities, but also builds upon community assets. Our relational approach to service is based on our belief in equality and human dignity.

Our strategic goals of including partners in planning and decision-making processes, providing more opportunities for students to be aware of social structures and norms, offering more resources for students’ advocacy and activism, and developing a more inclusive framework for reflection have, at their heart, our commitment to anti-racism.

Pace Center staff are committed to our own internal work of diversity and inclusion and anti-racism. This includes acknowledging the history of our programs, to diversifying our vendors, to expanding opportunities for students to engage in racial justice, to providing resources that can support students’ inquiry of racial justice, and providing guidance for student boards and organizations.

Many of the areas that students have an interest in﹘educational access and achievement, health outcomes, environmental justice, mass incarceration﹘have racial inequities at their base. Service can respond to anti-Black racism, and poise students to ask questions that build upon their awareness of the fundamental systems, history and context that underlie all of these issues.

How We Will Take Action on Anti-Racism


As a liberal arts institution, Princeton University places a high value on exploration, critical thinking, asking questions, and recognizing different ways of knowing. Equally valued at Princeton are access, diversity, and combating systemic racism. At the Pace Center, we are unwavering in our commitment to work toward a future where people connect with one another and societal institutions to build a more equitable and just world. With service broadly defined at Princeton, we are committed to being open, receptive and flexible in our response to student and community need, fortified by our values, relationships, and social responsibility. With this plan, we commit to more inclusive reflection, equitable partnerships with communities, and advocacy and activism that inspires students to be conscientious citizens. We will develop clear metrics to benchmark each goal, assume individual and collective ownership, and systematically track and report on progress. We will be transparent in holding marginalized experiences at the forefront of our internal interrogation of the impact of our practices, our relationships, and our systems. We will engage regularly with our stakeholders to ask, to listen, and to learn, constantly challenging our assumptions. The successful implementation of this five-year plan embodies our belief in creating connections for collective learning. It also embodies our commitment to our students, to our communities, and to the world. We hope that you will join us on this next journey.