Twenty years! That’s how long the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) has been awarding scholarships to students planning to pursue careers in the transit industry. To commemorate this milestone, the APTF held its Twentieth Anniversary Gala Reception in San Diego at the APTA EXPO. Eric Hill was one of many transit industry luminaries in attendance. Hill, who was the first scholarship recipient and is still in the transit industry today, spoke about the difference the scholarship made in his life, and offered words of encouragement for this year’s recipients.
Since its inception in 1988, the foundation has grown significantly, awarding $72,000 in scholarships to 22 deserving recipients, with the minimum amount totaling $2,500, at this year’s event at the EXPO. The ultimate goal of the APTF is to increase and retain the number of young professionals entering the public transportation field as a career in order to sustain growth and improvement throughout the industry.
“I believe that the future of our industry really rests in the talent that we are able to attract to the business,” says Rick Simonetta, CEO for Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix, who was with the APTF at its inception and served more than 17 years on its board. “The industry has grown so much, modernized so much and is now a very attractive place to work. Thirty-seven years ago when I started in transit, there were really no young people.”
Some of the scholarships are also named after people who have made an impact on our industry. People like Raymond C. Miller, former executive director of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit in Florida, who passed away in April 2007. The first scholarship in his honor was awarded at this year’s reception. Or, Reba Malone, the first woman to chair APTA and also served as the first chair of the APTF in 1988. Reba is still a member of the foundation’s board today and remains an important part of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors.
Or, there is also a scholarship named after GFI GENFARE Sales Executive Dan M. Reichard Jr., — one of the hardest working people in the industry — whose scholarship honors an applicant dedicated to a career in the business administration/management area of the industry.
The APTF isn’t ready to sit back and enjoy all of its success and growth. They have plans to keep working and growing the size of their scholarships, hoping to reach a point where they can award ten scholarships a year worth $10,000 each.
“In terms of going forward, we want to grow the foundation beyond giving scholarships, we’d like to be able to give fellowships or research grants,” adds Yvette Conley, director of development for the APTF.
To continue to meet these goals, the APTF has several fundraisers throughout the year, including its Seventeenth Annual Benefit Golf Tournament to be held this summer. I would like to personally recognize and congratulate the APTF for 20 years of hard work in maintaining the growth of our industry. The time has never been better to concentrate on making our young college students aware that public transportation is a growing and important part of this country’s future.
If you would like to donate to the APTF, please visit their Website, or call Yvette Conley at (202) 496-4868.