This is a wonderful and gratifying story about the PVF Roundtable, where the organization makes dreams possible and supports our industry. PVF Roundtable’s board of directors developed a plan to facilitate students who need financial assistance in getting an education. The will offset the cost of education for deserving students involved in studies that complement the PVF industry.
About 10 years ago, the PVF Roundtable had a charitable status with the IRS and a small initial money fund, but no direction as to how best to use the charitable status to benefit the industry. The scholarship initiative was proposed and the board of directors acted to find ways to provide them. Board member Dick Dalton headed up the effort. He had a friend who suggested that we look into an endowment at the University of Houston to provide scholarship funding.
Dalton worked with the University of Houston to create a “permanent endowment” proposal and the PVF Roundtable board immediately decided to fund the endowment. The first contribution was $12,500, which was a good portion of the available PVF Roundtable funds. The University of Houston endowment at the time had matching funds from another donor, thus funding the endowment with $25,000. The endowment created a plan where the income generated would fund scholarship awards to deserving students.
Texas A&M University and the Industrial Distribution program had many students graduating and working within the PVF industry. Texas A&M had students requiring financial assistance. The PVF Roundtable expanded the endowment effort to include Texas A&M and an endowment was established using the available income to fund scholarships. The program was successful and, as a result, students began thanking the PVF Roundtable for the scholarships that helped make their dreams a reality.
The permanent endowments were working, but Ray Bojarczuk of ExxonMobil suggested that future expansion of the program should focus on students in the trades, as many companies were in need of trained craftsmen. The scholarship committee initiated the research and determined that a Current Use Scholarship fund program be established; seed money was contributed and earmarked for the trades program.
As the PVF Roundtable funding programs developed, contributions continued to funnel into the scholarship endowment. The board approved two new schools to participate in the PVF program: Lee College in Baytown, Texas, along with San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas. Both institutions had an extensive history of established and successful programs supplying graduates to the PVF industries near the schools.
All these programs use the scholarship funds donated to offset tuition and fees along with needed supplies. These scholarships have made a significant impact on hundreds of students lives.
In the past three years, the Current Use Scholarship funds program expanded again to include Houston Community College to provide scholarship funds to offset student tuition and fees as a retention program. Many of the students were being hired away from the program before graduation. This is another incredible program offered to support new technology employed in our industry and the people needed to work in these technical fields.
Our expansion for 2018 included the addition of Larmar Tech in Beaumont, Texas, and Associated Building Contractors program in Lake Charles, La., and Baton Rouge, La. These new programs have just started the funding process as part of the Current Use Scholarship program.
During a visit to the dean of one of our schools, I heard some interesting stories. Many of our awardee students are the first members of their families to attend an institution beyond high school. Sometimes, a tuition of $200 can be a difficult barrier to entry into secondary education. The impact of the PVF Roundtable assisting with money for tuition, fees and supplies can aid a person’s desire to better his life and his family’s.
The schools struggle with real human issues and generally are not aware of students’ personal difficulties vs. demands of school. The PVF Roundtable helps with the financial barriers to school.
Some schools wanted money for brick-and-mortar buildings but the PVF Roundtable specifically states that the funds are only to be used to defray direct student costs. These students are to be studying in areas around the pipe, valves and fittings industry. Studies outside the general area of PVF do not fall under the requirements of the PVF Roundtable scholarship funds.
The 2018 PVF Roundtable budget for scholarships is $250,000. Several years ago, contributions were increasing and the board set a goal for the organization to have a total cumulative donation to scholarships by the end of the year 2020 of $1,000,000. We believe this goal will be met, given our success over the past several years.
Where did the money come from? The easy answer: from our member companies and their employees. But there is a larger story to tell. The board has allowed companies to sponsor our various activities and meetings by offsetting the costs of food and bar, which has been an incredible success.
Member companies donate the total cost of a quarterly meeting and some have some relationships with well-known personalities such as Terry Bradshaw (TV personality and former pro football player) along with a fun speaker Mike Rowe (of “Dirty Jobs” fame and an advocate of careers in the trades). These sponsorships have been a key to our growth and scholarship effort.
We do fun outings, such as the Don Caffee Memorial Golf Tournament held in various country clubs around Houston and the Troutblast fishing Tournament in Matagorda, Texas. Both events have contributed substantial funds to the scholarship effort. As a note of interest, the golf event has outgrown the ability of a single country club to accommodate the participants, and I’m told the fishing tournament is one of the largest on the Texas Gulf Coast!
To make the goals we established a few years back, it took exceptional commitment and a substantial amount of work by so many members. We have the scholarship committee, the golf tournament committee and the fishing tournament committee, along with members contributing more than one can imagine in time and work.
All the effort to better the PVF Roundtable is through volunteerism, with many costs absorbed by the individual or the member company. The PVF Roundtable works to provide for the enjoyment of the members and, most importantly, for the development of continuing educational opportunities.
Editor’s note: This article is a first in a series highlighting the various committees that make up the PVF Roundtable.