At the Business Members Annual Meeting in Puerto Rico in January, the APTA Foundation (APTF) announced the BMBG raised $50,000 for the Foundation’s scholarship program — a significant bump from the $28,000 raised last year.
“It’s the most we’ve raised at our Annual Conference to date, and I’m really thankful for our business members’ generosity in reaching this milestone,” APTF Chair Raquel Olivier told METRO Magazine. “This success is due to the fact that my predecessor chairpersons have done such an outstanding job of building the momentum for the Foundation and now we want to build on that to continue taking it to the next level.”
In addition to the record-breaking donation, the APTF also announced that for the first time five private and public partners have agreed to hire at least one of its scholars each as part of the program.
“It’s part of our next step to create a workforce development initiative, so that we can recruit and retain scholars in our public transit industry by giving them jobs or promoting them from the jobs that they're currently working at in the industry,” Olivier explains.
The APTA Foundation
Established in 1988 by Reba Malone, the APTF’s goal is to increase and retain the number of individuals choosing the transit field as a career by providing scholarships and engagement opportunities to deserving students and transit professionals.
Since its inception, over $2 million has been awarded to approximately 400 scholars, with the APTF awarding $337,000 to 43 scholars just last year alone.
Over the last few years, the Foundation’s mission has become critical thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the so-called “great resignation,” which has hit many industries, including public transit.
“There has been a big gap left because of a significant number of recent retirements, and with COVID also happening, it really did take a lot of our people out of the workforce, so we’re really trying to regain some of the momentum that we’ve lost,” says Olivier.
One way Olivier says the Foundation is trying to do that is by reaching out to the younger generation to get them interested in the public transit industry as a whole.
“What people often don’t understand is there are a plethora of different career choices within the public transit industry that they just don’t know about,” explains Olivier. “Because of that fact, we want to make sure when we are promoting the Foundation, we are also promoting the industry, because we not only want to focus on workforce development within the industry, but also attract more people to it in a lasting, sustainable manner.”
2024 Initiatives and M.O.R.E
APTF’s initiatives for 2024, include:
- Increased social media presence/outreach
- Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to award the HBCU Scholarship
- Increased Training/Workforce Development
- An APTF Agency Challenge to take on some of the Foundation’s scholarship winners, which it has already had success with.
“In addition to our work with HBCUs and the HBCU scholarship, we’re also leveraging our relationships with WTS International, Latinos in Transit, and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials to increase our inclusivity,” says Olivier.
The group also has a new slogan “Do M.O.R.E in 2024, which includes More money/mentorship, opportunity/oversight, recruiting/resources, and empowerment/employment.
“Our ‘Do More!’ mission encapsulates the essence of our commitment to elevating our impact within the public transportation industry,” says Olivier. “I am confident that, with our collective efforts, we can achieve new heights and truly make a difference, leaving an enduring mark on the landscape of public transportation.”