BY DENNIS BROOKS, P.ENG., P.GEOPH.
Education Foundation Columnist
Editor's Note: The APEGGA Education Foundation,
which is separate and distinct from APEGGA, serves the professions
by supporting the education and development of engineers,
geologists and geophysicists, as well as those who might enter
the three professions. It assembles and manages funds, builds
endowments and encourages donations. The foundation distributes
funds for scholarships and awards, and in support of special
The APEGGA Education Foundation Board has struggled over
the years with deciding what its vision is, and I have struggled
with this too. Before I give you my personal view, I'll give
a bit of history.
APEGGA has been in the scholarship business for a long time.
The University of Alberta calendar as far back as 1958-59
records APEGGA sponsorship of five gold medals (probably real
gold then!) and the H.R. Webb scholarship for $2000, named
after an early registrar. That was before the University of
By 1974 there were eight gold medals and scholarships in each
of engineering, geology and geophysics. Medals and scholarships
were added for Calgary early in its history and more recently
so were scholarships for community college transfer candidates.
In 1996 APEGGA Council initiated a study in a sub-committee
of the Honours and Awards Committee to consider another structure.
The recommendation was to create a stand-alone foundation
with authority to issue tax receipts for donations. In March
1997 a board was elected to run the foundation.
The mission of the foundation was quite expansive; see our
tab under the APEGGA website, which lists it as it was formulated.
I was not a party to those deliberations, and have only seen
some of the related documents. They make a reference to our
sister association's foundation in British Columbia.
What I have seen of the supporting documents shows the B.C.
foundation to be quite different in concept from ours; it
is much more under control of the association.
The tenor of studies and discussion in our organization, as
I read it, is that APEGGA wanted to more or less get out of
the scholarship business and let the foundation run it on
its own. Funding changes since 1996 are along that line.
My vision is different. The principal objective is to attract
bright, young candidates to our professions (as a colleague
rightly put it) and to those professions which help nurture
ours, such as education. I see the foundation as always being
closely connected to APEGGA. After all, we both seek to enhance
our professions. We should share the same offices while still
having our own identity.
The foundation today is not in a financial position to stand
alone and perhaps may never be. It needs financial and staffing
support to survive. The best thing APEGGA could do for us
is to pay for a part-time manager to give continuity and direction.
Since we are only allowed to put 20 per cent of receipted
donations toward all expenses, including staffing, we will
be a long time getting there. For example, to even cover $60,000
in total expense, the foundation would need some $300,000
a year in donations. Today we are at about $70,000 a year.
One of our problems is finding support staff with the range
of skills we need - accounting, organizing and public relations.
All of these skills can be found in APEGGA, but not in one
person. We also need a person with some background in charitable
Since APEGGA is not a bottomless money pit, perhaps their
contribution should shift from direct funding of scholarships,
to these areas of support as we gain strength. By support,
I don't mean control; I believe the foundation can act responsibly
to help achieve goals we have in common.
Today, we struggle to have an identity. When people phone
our listed number, they get the APEGGA switchboard; the call
is not answered as "the foundation." The way we
are set up, it would hard to do this differently.
We don't have an e-mail address that can be responded to quickly
and efficiently. And our office services are very inefficient.
By that, I mean that foundation members, and board members
themselves, are not linked in any meaningful way.
We need a "virtual office." If there is an inquiry
from the public, we should be able to relay that almost immediately
to any member of the foundation for action with controls in
place to see that the "ball did not get dropped."
Foundation members could then work with each other at a distance
- this would allow us have meaningful membership involvement
in each of the APEGGA Branches (something absent now).
This would open up great possibilities for promotion of the
foundation, sponsorship of events, fundraising activities,
and internal work programs. I believe there is technology
out there to enable this without jeopardizing the integrity
of APEGGA's systems.
What do you think?