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Vendor Newsmaker Q&A Jennifer Maher, TechForce Foundation

Friday, December 7, 2018 - 09:00
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FutureTech Success, a national initiative from the nonprofit TechForce Foundation, is an industry-wide, multi-faceted program to help inspire the next generation of auto, diesel and collision technicians through three strategic components:

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  • Repositioning the outdated, grease-monkey stigma of the profession through storytelling and interactions, converting parents and influencers of 13-18 year olds from naysayers to champions of the profession by delivering the message that being a transportation technician is a successful, in-demand and valued career path;
  • Reinvigorating hands-on experiences. Direct funding, resources and employee engagement back into high school auto shops and afterschool programs nationwide, and make tactile challenges available for young men and women to, once again, interact with auto and diesel technology so they may experience the rewards of working and creating with their hands;
  • Collective Voice. Harnessing the resources and best practices of the industry, package and present in a way future techs and their parents can find these tools, and working together, as an industry, to deliver a unified public message that America respect and values technicians, and that they’re needed to keep America rolling.

A myriad of association partners support TechForce and its FutureTech Success campaign, including SkillsUSA, the Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association (AMRA), the Automotive Service Association (ASA), the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR), the American Trucking Association’s Training Managers Council (TMC), the Auto Care Association, Women in Auto Care, the American Rental Association (ARA), the ASE Training Managers Council (ATMC), and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Additionally, FutureTech Success has financial support from its “early adopter” corporate benefactors, “each a visionary in their willingness to invest in building the infrastructure and assets for the initiative.” These companies include Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Bridgestone, General Motors, Ford, Interstate Batteries, Manheim, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan North America, Penske Truck Leasing, Shell Lubricants, Snap-on, the Toyota USA Foundation, Valvoline, WD-40 and the Universal Technical Institute (UTI).

Jennifer Maher, the TechForce Foundation’s CEO, says “It will take everyone in industry working together to combat the outdated, grease monkey stigma that still derails too many young people from considering the profession. With the rapid advancements in automotive technology, cars are now computers on wheels and require highly trained, skilled technicians. It’s a ‘new collar career’ that has strong demand and very rewarding opportunities.”

Maher is a graduate of Arizona State University with an extensive background in nonprofit management prior to taking the helm at TechForce. She spoke to Aftermarket Business World recently about the organization and the group’s mission.

Q: What are the student eligibility requirements?

A: Our Board of Directors has established the Minimum Eligibility Requirements for an individual applicant: 1) Must be a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident and/or approved DACA status; 2) have a high school diploma or GED; 3) be an enrolled future student – or – an active, current student in good standing at a post-secondary, NATEF (the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation)/ASE-accredited educational institution offering a vehicle technician curriculum; 4) must demonstrate financial hardship by having a completed and approved FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on record at campus or other financial-need based evidence, if using DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, and available for review by the Foundation; 5) be requesting funds for the purposes directly related to pursuing a technical education and/or career in the transportation industry. Applicants must also meet any requirements for specific scholarships or grants offered by the Foundation, such as minimum GPA or attendance record criteria.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for scholarships or grants?

A: To be considered for a scholarship or grant, applicants must meet certain minimum eligibility criteria, including: For an individual applicant: 1) Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or DACA status with proof of a current Employment Authorization Document; 2) Be requesting funds for the purposes directly related to pursuing a technical education and/or a technical career in the transportation industry; 3) Have a high school diploma or GED; 4) Be currently enrolled at a post-secondary, technical education program (Note: to be “enrolled” means student has paid the enrollment deposit and signed the intent to attend documentation – or – is a current, active student and not on a leave of absence, withdrawn, or other status that is not actively attending classes); 5) Demonstrate financial need; 6) Meet the minimum qualifications for any posted opportunity you apply to.

For organization applicants: 1) Shall be either a 501(c)(3), and/or: 2) A public, private or charter secondary school (middle-, junior- or high school) that offers a career & technical education (CTE)-type of program that includes automotive. 3) Applications are by invitation only. For more information, visit our website to send us a message.

Q: How do I apply for a scholarship or grant?

A: The answers are found in our Student Tip Sheet, and you can also watch our video. Then follow the process on the Scholarships page to reach our scholarship/grant site where you will apply.

Q: Does the Foundation only support students attending UTI campuses?

A: No. In fact, the Foundation provides tremendous funding and is a strong advocate for high school CTE (career and technical education) programs across the U.S., and other nonprofits offering STEM-based technical education, skills- and career-development opportunities to middle- and high-school students, and NGO (non-governmental organization) partners that provide support services to students pursuing their post-secondary education degrees.

Additionally, the TechForce Foundation is currently exploring opportunities to partner with other educational institutions in order to streamline processes in verifying student application data and award distribution so that the TechForce Foundation may support all future techs regardless of where they choose to obtain their education, so long as the institution meets the following criteria:

Automotive Programs – The school must have a currently accredited NATEF program in place

It is highly recommended that the ASE Student Certification Test is offered to all program students. If the ASE Student Certification Test is offered, the student must agree to take the ASE Automotive Test during, or upon completion, of the program. The school must have an active student professional development program in place, SkillsUSA Chapter or FFA (Future Farmers of America) Chapter.

Medium/Heavy Duty Truck or Diesel Programs – The school must have a currently accredited NATEF program in place or working towards NATEF accreditation. A school shall be considered to be working towards NATEF Accreditation upon receipt of a completed application by NATEF.

It is highly recommended that the ASE Student Certification Test is offered to all program students. If the ASE Student Certification Test is offered, the student must agree to take the ASE Medium/Heavy-Duty Truck Student Certification Test during, or upon completion, of the program. The school must have an active student professional development program in place, SkillsUSA Chapter or FFA Chapter

Collision Programs – The school must have a currently accredited NATEF program in place or be working towards NATEF accreditation. A school shall be considered to be working towards NATEF Accreditation upon receipt of a completed application by NATEF. It is highly recommended that the ASE Student Certification Test is offered to all program students. If the ASE Student Certification Test is offered, the student must agree to take the ASE Collision Student Certification Test during, or upon completion, of the program. The school must have an active student professional development program, SkillsUSA Chapter or FFA Chapter.

Motorcycle or Marine Programs – It is highly encouraged, but not mandatory, for the school to have an active student professional development program on campus, SkillsUSA Chapter or FFA Chapter.

Q: How is the Foundation related to UTI, if at all?

A: While completely separate and autonomous corporations, both are committed to fostering the education and careers of those wish to work in the transportation technician industry. UTI is currently the Foundation’s largest corporate donor. UTI is a Delaware corporation with 13 campuses across the United States offering education and training for the success of its transportation industry clients who seek skilled, entry-level technicians.

The Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) charity that strives to inspire the next generation of students to pursue their dreams of becoming a technician, provides support to students pursuing their technical education and careers, and connecting the industry to champion these students’ abilities and dreams.

Q: Our company is interested in working with the Foundation. How can I learn more?

A: The Foundation seeks integrated, long-term strategic alliances with corporations able to provide funding, in-kind products or services, marketing muscle, employee engagement, deep discounts, cause-marketing or consumer activation campaigns or other resources. You can download a corporate alliance resource kit and visit a listing of our current corporate partners by going to our website: techforcefoundation.org.

To begin discussions, I can be contacted at jmaher@techforcefoundation.org or 623-445-0933.

Q: Who is on the Foundation’s Board of Directors?

A: The current board is comprised of the following individuals: Dan Hancock, Chairman (General Motors Retired, Indiana); Warren DeBardelaben, Vice Chair (Nissan North America, Tennessee); John Heenan, Treasurer (Ten November Management, Pennsylvania); Jennifer Maher, Secretary/Executive Director (TechForce, Arizona), Angie Babin (Manheim, Atlanta); Chris Blanchette (Bridgestone Retail Operations, Tennessee); Bogi Lateiner (Bogi’s Garage, Arizona); Fred Nader (Autotech Technology Development Inc., Michigan); Greg Rintala (Snap-on, Wisconsin); Denise Kingstrom (BASF, Michigan); Barry Fodor (Nissan North America, Tennessee); Tom Gray (Interstate Batteries, Texas); Jamal Muashsher (Valvoline, Kentucky); Tony Sciarra (Tesla, California).


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