Calling all graphic communications students and educators: the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation wants YOU! TODAY!
The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) is no longer the best-kept secret in the printing industry. With nearly 70 years in operation, the $12 million organization is boldly occupying the intersection of today’s print and graphic communications industry and its future workforce.
PGSF is a private, industry-directed nonprofit that offers technical-school, undergraduate, and graduate fellowship assistance to people interested in a career in the graphic communications field. It also grants financial support to institutions’ education-focused initiatives and provides workforce development resources to students, instructors, and employers.
“As an independent nonprofit, we are poised to be an agnostic voice in the graphic communications field, able to help all ships rise,” says Jules Van Sant, PGSF board chair and co-owner of the Pacific Northwest full-service marketing agency Bubble & Hatch. “Our mission is to continue to fund education and workforce development opportunities, expand our reach, and give money away.”
Preparing Scholars for Print
With over 120 endowments totaling $12 million, PGSF plans to award more than $650,000 in grants and scholarships in 2023.
Scholarships are available for part- and full-time undergraduates in graphic communications, and fellowships are granted to those entering or continuing graduate studies programs. Awards vary in amount from $1,500 to $10,000 per academic year, in most cases, for up to four years. They renew automatically each year for students who maintain a minimum GPA and stay in an approved field of study.
Grants are issued mainly to educational institutions that want to broaden their outreach, improve technology, do more research, and include more students in the field.
“We touch a lot of lives,” says Van Sant. “The biggest challenge is finding technical colleges and universities that fit our mission. We want to be a resource to instructors, students, and the workforce pathway overall. Our grant money is meant to preach, teach, and reach print.”
The organization has indeed touched a lot of lives with its scholarships, grants, and national design contests, and students who went to college with PGSF’s help often become vocal advocates of the nonprofit.
Creating Blended Career Paths: Print, Sales, Teaching, and Marketing
“When a student is chosen to receive a PGSF award, they are not only receiving financial support for their education, but they are also joining the PGSF family and will have the benefits now and in the future of a positive support system provided by PGSF staff and directors and our extensive alumni and contact network,” says Debbie Bohan, PGSF administrative director. “This makes a life-changing impact on people, and you can see that many are happy to come and give back to us.”
Nick Gawreluk is a PGSF recipient turned print-industry powerhouse. Gawreluk knew since early high school that he was passionate about the print industry. He received annual support from PGSF ranging from $3,000 to $5,500 throughout his undergraduate studies in print media at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). He went on to work and study internationally—his journey spanning five continents—and he led teams at Heidelberg and HP before becoming the director of sales and account management at one of the nation’s largest privately held print and business communications companies.
“Numerous opportunities opened from the scholarship support, and some continue today, long after my time as a student,” says Gawreluk. “In addition to making attending my dream school a financial reality, [PGSF let me] remove the pressure of finding a part-time job and instead focus on excelling in the classroom, joining industry-relevant student organizations, and pursuing international internship opportunities. Now as a professional member of the printing industry, I am fortunate for the opportunity to give back and continue supporting the future of print through involvement within PGSF’s board of directors.”
Beyond appreciating his personal successes, Gawreluk sees PGSF as the key to the industry’s future. “With an overwhelming share of the industry’s workforce retiring soon, PGSF is leading the charge to attract and retain young minds into a career path with endless opportunities,” he says. “Young talent will bring a newfound perspective into an industry that is in desperate need of a breath of fresh air. The role of print as a communication medium has drastically changed, and who better to lead the next chapter than those driving the disruption? The opportunities to get involved and leave a lasting impact are there for the taking, and PGSF helps connect the dots with promising students eager to take on the challenge.”
Impactful in Every Way
Jessica Curran is an associate professor at Salt Lake Community College, teaching printing and graphics courses for the Graphic Design & Communications specialization within the Visual Art & Design department. She says she was a “very poor college student” who desperately needed financial aid. But she was already “head over heels for the graphic communications program” when she decided to apply for a PGSF scholarship in her junior year.
“The scholarship helped me get through college, but I think it also helped when I was applying for jobs after graduation,” Curran recalled. “I was able to list it as a success on my résumé, and future employers could see that I was committed to graphic communications. My initial desire was to be an estimator. I submitted my résumé to every printer in New Jersey, and I had a job offer less than a week after graduation. I’ve evolved into teaching now, and I make a point to encourage my students to apply for the scholarship because I remember how much it meant to me. Many of my students are first-generation college students just like I was, so I know how much of an impact a scholarship can have.”
As a current PGSF board member, Curran says her perspective on the foundation’s impact has widened even further. “I can see how the foundation works to support education and industry and not just individual students,” she says. “We recently created a grants subcommittee to provide funding for equipment and other resources for graphics programs. I like that PGSF reaches out to the schools to make them aware of how we can support them.”
Like Gawreluk, Curran sees enormous potential in the future print workforce. “We need people who want to continue the rich history of the graphic communications industry and take the reins of its future. From my perspective as a professor, today’s students are inquisitive, they aren’t afraid to have an opinion, and they are interested in so many things,” she says. “This inquisitiveness is a strength for future employment.”
PGSF scholars and administrators alike emphasize the connections the organization opens up to its community. Joseph Schember, another RIT grad and PGSF scholar, is Global Head of Marketing and Communications at the Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR). He was a foundation board member for 10 years and participated on the scholarship committee.
“My scholarship was pivotal in giving me a sense of connection to people within the industry, an awareness of some of the companies that could hire me, and a boost of confidence that I was on the right track,” he says. During his college days majoring in graphic media publishing, Schember was “intrigued by how the coursework seemed to blend design, science, manufacturing, technology, and business,” and he says he has always viewed the print industry as rich in diverse opportunities.
Gawreluk concurs. “Receiving a scholarship is just the start of one’s journey with PGSF,” he says. “The network of companies and individual supporters is incredible, and the connection within the foundation can last a lifetime.”
Visit PGSF at: PGSF.org (2022/23 PGSF Scholarship Statistics)