August 16, 2011 | bfeldman | AIA, Architecture, Uncategorized

AIA St. Louis Scholarship Fund


Since 2006 I’ve had the honor of being a trustee of the AIA St. Louis Scholarship Fund.   Of all the things I’ve done with AIA, the scholarship fund is the most rewarding.  We had our last round of interviews last night.

For those who don’t know, our fund was started back in the 60’s by some forward thinking members, including Rex Becker FAIA, with a few thousand dollars left over from convention.  Rex and others watched the fund closely – in the early days students were given loans instead of scholarships.   In the short time I knew him, I became an huge admirer of Rex.   He worked hard for decades to grow something small into something large.  He helped an awful lot of people (3 of them work at Fox today).

The Ranft family gave a large donation in the 70’s, and since that time the fund has grown to one of the largest (if not the largest) architectural scholarship funds in the US.  Since I’ve been involved, we’ve given scholarships totaling over $400,000  to 150 students.

The fund has also responded to the financial calamity of 2008 – 2009 that hit architects especially hard.  From a March 26th 2009 letter to our membership:

We know that the number of unemployed and under-employed architects and interns continues to grow. Many firms face extinction as more and more construction projects are placed on hold.

Last week, the trustees of the AIA St. Louis Scholarship Fund met. The state of the economy and its devastating effect on our industry and profession was one of our topics.

To assist our profession during these uncertain days, the AIA St. Louis Scholarship Fund is allocating funds to be made available to unemployed/underemployed architects and interns on their pathway to licensure.

(Excerpt of a letter from Bob Winters to the Chapter)

We’ve made several thousand dollars available the past 2 years to architects and interns who went back to school to take a CAD course, or get their LEED certification.  We also support the Washington University Lecture Series and Alberti Program.

I am fortunate to work with 3 really great people on the fund – Bob Winters of OWH is Chair, and Grace Corbin of Christner and David Polzin of Cannon are also trustees.  Deb Boussum from AIA St. Louis keeps us all in line and the wheels turning smoothly.

If you know of a candidate meeting the eligibility requirements, please tell them about the fund and send them our way.  Information can be found on the AIA’s website, noted above.

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