By Diane M. Calabrese / Published April 2023
“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
Robert Louis Steven-son’s couplet is known so well it often gets corrupted with the word “wonderful” substituted for “number.” That’s understandable. In our minds and hearts, we know there’s always something more to learn and do.
Most of the opportunities for expanding our minds are wonderful. Often satisfying the thirst for knowledge derives from more than a do-it-yourself effort or a combination of individual and formal learning.
As part of its commitment to life-long learning, the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA) established the CETA Scholarship Foundation on February 2, 1996. The CETA Scholar-ship Foundation, which underwent a structural change in the last two years, stands as a separately incorporated charitable organization.
The foundation has a two-part mission. Its core mission since its inception has been to provide scholarship opportunities to CETA members, their families, and employees. Now, there is another dimension to the mission: to provide financial assistance to employers for employee training and education.
Dennis Black, president of McHenry Pressure Cleaning Systems Inc. in Frederick, MD, serves as the 2023 chairperson of the foundation’s board of trustees. [The trustees function in the spirit of a committee, shepherding the procedures for electing awardees as well as serving in a fiduciary capacity for the foundation.]
As leader of the group responsible for the foundation, Black wants to be sure CETA members know what’s new. He also points to the way past successes have been amplified.
The more CETA members know about the opportunities that exist through the CETA Scholarship Foundation, the more they take advantage of them. (Also, the more they can lend a hand to help others do the same in the future.)
“My goals [for the committee] are to continue working on and strengthening our new programs that were created and revamped the last few years,” says Black. “Those include the Great Futures Program and our new grant program.”
The Great Futures Program competitively awards scholarships to the children and employees of CETA members. Evaluation of applications is handled by an outside (third-party) evaluator. Nine scholarships were awarded in 2022.
“The newest program is our grant program,” explains Black. “This allows the CETA membership to provide all types of training to their employees and have [the foundation] help pay for it.”
The grant program for continuing education of industry members is extremely important. It benefits both the participants and the industry. Moreover, there’s a streamlined mechanism for obtaining a grant.
“All members need to do is submit an invoice and the simple application to apply for 50 percent of the cost, up to a $500 maximum for the class or training,” says Black. “We feel this is a great benefit to the CETA membership, assisting them in offering continuing education to their employees.”
The moniker Great Futures Program aims to capture the philosophy that supports it. “The committee is proud of all the good the foundation has provided in the past and believes we are preparing for ‘great futures’ for our CETA members,” explains Black.
Building on the existing strength of the CETA Scholarship Foundation is a priority for Black and his trustee/committee colleagues. Part of the additional strength will come from a perpetual funding source.
“We have started a drive to have the scholarship endowment fund be self-sufficient or self-funding,” says Black. “We plan on kicking off this program this year.”
Russ Hess, regional manager for Northeast USA, Eastern Canada with Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. in Alcester, SD, is the executive chairperson of the foundation. He becomes chairperson in 2024.
Like all the trustees, Hess is enthusiastic about the foundation as well as an ardent supporter of CETA. As such, he encourages other CETA members to consider joining the efforts of the CETA Scholarship Foundation trustees.
“I would like every CETA member to know that you are invited, if you are so inclined, to please come forward and offer your candidacy to become a foundation trustee,” says Hess. “We need future trustees.”
Hess emphasizes the gratification derived from serving. “I promise you will enjoy the satisfaction in knowing that you play a role in furthering the education of CETA members and their employees. Additionally, you will enjoy working with your peers within the industry toward a common goal.”
Another trustee, Mike Tonies, the vice president of sales at Hydra-Flex Inc. in Savage, MN, also cites the importance of getting involved when possible. “As trustees, we are committed to executing the strategic vision set for the scholarship foundation for the present and the future,” he explains.
“We are deeply focused on the goal of sustainability,” says Tonies. “This is both for our scholarships and the newly created grant program as well as through creating continuity with the board of trustees.”
Tonies stresses the plans taking shape now for the foundation are possible because of the structure already in place. “We are very excited to continue the great work that so many have contributed to in the past.”
The CETA Scholarship Foundation succeeds because of the contributions of time and money that are made.
“The education programs are all funded by generous contributions from the membership of CETA,” says Gary Scott of Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc., treasurer for the foundation.
The contributions arrive in many forms. For instance, Lease Consultants Corporation, Des Moines, IA, donates a portion (one percent) of every standard financial transaction originated by a CETA member.
Many CETA members donate funds sufficient to award a scholarship in recognition of their company. Some members donate funds in memory of an individual.
Scott, like fellow trustees, notes the importance of taking the foundation to an endowment level sufficient to sustain the program without special fundraising each year.
Why do people contribute to the foundation? “Our association is made up of very generous individuals,” says Scott. “They see the need and they respond.”
There’s something more than simply a willingness to give and help, though. Those who contribute also value the concept of life-long learning. “Education not only improves the companies in our industry but also improves the lives of many,” says Scott.
A scholarship recipient may not stay in the industry, but the recipient will go on to help build and fortify communities. That carries real meaning for Scott, other trustees, and CETA members.
“Scholarships have been provided for those who have studied to take roles as nurses, engineers, and many other lines of work,” says Scott. “An educated populace improves the lives of everyone.”
An award from the CETA Scholar-ship Foundation may be just the financial lift a student needs to complete or begin an educational experience. It’s all about promoting the many riches that come from following the number of wonderful things in the world. And we all benefit.
To learn more about the foundation or the application procedures for the Great Futures or grant programs, visit the CETA.org website and use the Foundation pull-down tab.
[Trustees of the CETA Scholarship Foundation include, in addition to those already cited, Jim O’Connell, president of Pacific Bay Equipment in Modesto, CA, the past chair; and Teresa Rasmussen with Royce Industries L.C. in North Las Vegas, NV, the secretary.]