The real success of PCI Foundation proposals comes from the partnership forged between the school and the local producers. The local partner - usually a PCI producer or group of producers - is not only provides in-kind support, such as tours of the plant or projects, personnel to give engineering support, and a variety of materials - but also helps ensure that the program meets the needs of the local industry.
When looking at proposals, in addition to ensuring that the program has great content and a supportive partner for the school, the Trustees also take into account investments made to the PCI Foundation from partners and associates in the geographic location. As a young organization, still working to expand our nest egg while also running and growing exciting industry programs, having a funding source for at least a portion of each grant we provide is vital to our long-term success.
Why do we expect funding to come from local industry sources?
The money has to come from somewhere. The PCI Foundation is funded solely through contributions from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete industry. It does not receive funding from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, except some in-kind donations. While the PCI Foundation is growing our savings in order to create an endowment, we currently do not have the ability to use interest from that savings for more than part of our program costs. We rely on donors to provide the funds for new programs.
The benefits to the industry in having a program will mainly be local. While not all architecture and engineering students stay local after graduation, the majority of them do tend to remain nearby. That means former students will most likely be specifying projects close to the school they attended, giving the greatest benefit to the local partners. Also of note, those precasters who have hired graduates from schools with PCI Foundation have selected them from programs in their area. Wells Concrete has had so much success, they have hired two graduates. In other cases, we have seen an opening for precast buildings on the campus. After the start of the program at South Dakota State University, the new School of Architecture was designed using precast concrete.
The cost of the grant is only a portion of the program. Although the major portion of the PCI Foundation support for a school with a PCI Foundation funding is the grant itself, the work that the PCI Foundation does goes above and beyond the simply sending a check to the school.
The PCI Foundation provides education for the professors both as part of our Professors Seminar and at the PCI Convention each year. We also work to create a collegial relationship amongst the professors - who often lend expertise to each other and support multiple programs. Students who attend the PCI Convention have a remarkable opportunity to see the world beyond their university campus and have a unique look at the precast industry.
We track students who finish the program and remain in touch with them through social media, continuing to reinforce what they learned in school and promote precast concrete design. We are also working on creating an internship that will be a great complementary program to the studios. By making the investment in your local school programs you will watch graduates go on to design with precast.
These programs and their administration take dollars in addition to what is paid in the grants.
The Foundation has to take a long-view to ensure that we will be able to grow our programs. Each year, we work to ensure that we do not have more money going out for programs than we have coming in. The goal of the PCI Foundation is to grow, so eventually we will ensure that every architecture, engineering and construction management student receives a thoughtful and useful education in designing and building with precast concrete.