What is a student-driven and designed project?

These are projects or internships that have been identified and developed by the student. This could be an internship that’s outside of Princeton’s network that you’d like to pursue, or an idea for a coalition you’d like to build, or a solution you’d like to develop; the possibilities are endless!

This is an opportunity for you to explore; projects can be tied to your future career, an issue you’re curious or passionate about, or something that has
resonated with you deeply. 

Why develop your own project?

You feel called to do something and cannot find the right fit in one of the structured internships You want experience conceptualizing a project and bringing it to life
You want more flexibility and independence than a standard internship might bring you.

What are some examples of opportunities that fit within the parameters of the fellowship?

Traditional internships:

  • Where you have identified an organization you’d like to work with and applied for an open internship position or have proposed an internship position.


  • You have identified an issue you’d like to research as well as a faculty member or organization to support you.


  • You would like to build a program,(for example, a healthy eating curriculum for a local school or a concert for a local nonprofit).


  • You would like to develop a product in response to a societal issue and have identified a partner or office who will support you.

What Makes A Strong Project Proposal?


As you begin to think about your project proposal, you should review the Pace Center’s Partnership Principles. These principles have been developed in collaboration with community partners and they guide our goals of supporting students to engage ethically and responsibly in service. Thinking deeply about the relationships and partnerships you plan to focus on during your Bogle Fellowship is an important first step in developing a strong proposal. 


Feasibility is a clear and concrete measure of a project’s strength. Each project should be SMART:

  • Specific: it has a clear goal and structure. Where is it? Who is involved? What are you going to accomplish?
  • Measurable: You should be able to measure your success. What is a yardstick of success? How will you assess where the issue stands now and where it will stand at the end of your summer?
  • Attainable: The project should be realistic and doable by you. Consider both your strengths and your limitations; what are you reasonably capable of? The stronger application does not necessarily have a loftier goal, it has a goal that is achievable.
  • Relevant: The project should be service oriented and therefore reflective of a relevant societal need, ideally specific to a community Just because it can be done, should it be done? Is this a pressing need?
  • Time-bound: The project must be completed within 8-10 weeks. This does not mean that the impact or outcome only lasts 8-10 weeks, but you must be clear on what you can reasonably accomplish in 8-10 weeks.

It’s also important to ensure your project does not unintentionally cause harm; what risks must you be mindful of?

Appropriateness & Sensitivity

Taking time to understand the issue you plan to explore and how it manifests in real time for those you hope to serve is crucial to developing a successful, meaningful and sustainable service effort. You must also be knowledgeable about the community partners you plan to work with and the work already being done. In this way, you are also being mindful about what potential for harm might exist, and how to mitigate that risk.

Projects tend to fall into two categories: ones that reflect a student’s lived experience and ones that reflect a curiosity about someone else’s experience. No preference is given to applicants in either camp, as long as they have taken the steps to ensure the project is appropriate. Let’s address these separately:

Returning to a familiar experience

Even if you have grown up in a community you may not know every aspect of it. Things can also change in a year- you’ve changed, haven’t you? It’s important to
recognize this and still develop the project with a sense of curiosity and openness. What will you learn about your community through this experience? How might you
be received differently now that you’re a Princeton student?

Entering a new community

Communities have specific needs to fill and goals they are trying to meet. It is critical that you acknowledge and seriously consider the needs/goals of the community you
plan to work with, without projecting your own assumptions. We highly recommend using the Entering the Community activity in the Pace Center Field Guide to Service.

It’s also vital to take a moment to reflect upon your own positionality in this work; what about you will enable you to engage with this community? What do you bring? Conversely, what aspects of your identity might be a barrier for you?

Partner Capacity

In many cases you will be joining into a movement/organization/issue where others are working tirelessly to make change every day. It is important to recognize these folks as issue experts and join with them rather than work in isolation, (which might inadvertently detract from their work). In this way, you can be an Ally and an Advocate. By hearing others’ voices, you can also better understand their fears and concerns; and ensure that you are not causing undo strain or tension in their work.

Some questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  • Who can you connect with to learn more about the community you have identified?
  • How have you researched your community partner to learn about their work, needs and
  • capacity?
  • How might you forward their mission? What do you have to add to the conversation?

We highly recommend you using the Community Assessment activity in the Pace Center Field Guide to Service 

Once you’ve identified these partners and have begun to discuss ideas and opportunities, it’s important that you take a moment and think about your partner’s capacity; do they have the time and space to support you? Who will you be able to turn to if something goes off the rails?

Developmental Potential and Vision

This is the time to remember that your project is a part of your larger trajectory as a person; both here at Princeton and beyond. This could be reflective of a potential career, a value you hold close, or an interest you have. It is not just about your project, it’s about investing in you and your potential.

To that end, this is where you demonstrate how the project will challenge you to shift and grow. What is going to be tough for you? Service is reciprocal: you are both giving to others, but you are receiving so much in return. What do you hope to gain through this experience, and how will it help you think about the future?

Impact of Service

This is really about relevancy and the space between doing something because you can and doing something because you should. The project should be of benefit; to a community, society, the world, another person. The ‘who’ is up to you.

A final note on harm

You might have noticed that we talk about harm in each of these sections; that’s intentional. When thinking about impact, in all of our good intentions we sometimes forget that we can also inadvertently cause harm to those we hope to serve. No project will be considered if the selection committee feels that there is a capacity for harm associated with the project.

We encourage you to take a moment and reflect on what might those unintended consequences be; and how might you mitigate them? Some questions you can consider are:

  • What portion of the community is being left out of your project?
  • How might your project be more inclusive?
  • Who are you not talking to?

Obviously, this is about striking a balance. You cannot include every perspective, but you have to be thoughtful about the ones you do choose to include.
Including multiple perspectives can get messy and that’s OK! Service should be difficult in this way, it should take the work of truly listening to others to create a strong impact.