PGSF Gears Up for More Expansive Role: An Exclusive Update

There are certain people who give selflessly back to the printing industry, and are often involved in a wide variety of activities to support us all, a lot of it on a volunteer basis. Sometimes we wonder how they do it. No question, Jules Van Sant is one of those people! We caught up with her between meetings and flights to learn more about one of her activities, the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation.

Jules Van Sant is a name recognized by most people in the printing industry. Residing in the state of Oregon, she has a long list of contributions to the industry. For example, she was Executive Director of the PIA Affiliate in the northwest PPI Association, which covered seven states, where she served from 2006 to 2018. As the association struggled to replace her, she often filled in the leadership gaps to keep things moving along . In this interview, we talk to her about her many industry activities, but most specifically, her important work with the Printing and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF), a critical enabler in the effort to attract new talent to the industry.

WhatTheyThink: Jules, thanks for taking time out of your very busy schedule to speak with us. Let’s start by covering some of the initiatives you are involved in these days.

Jules Van Sant: As you know, when I left the role of Executive Director of PPI Association in 2018, a colleague and I founded the marketing firm Bubble & Hatch. In my role there, we are doing some of the marketing for the Americas Print Show 22, scheduled for August 17–19, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. As I am also involved in the workforce development area, I will be participating in a lunchtime panel on the first day of the show involving people from different aspects of the workforce development efforts in the industry. We are also working to get more schools involved in sending students to the show, and to view students visiting the show as potential future assets, getting them more involved with equipment demonstrations and inviting them into their booths for conversations. We will also be arranging sort of a “speed dating” situation where students and others can be interviewed during the show, which we hope will lead to jobs for them in the future, or internships while they are in school.

WTT: That’s a lot by itself, but I understand you are not stopping there!

JVS: No, I’m not. The other major initiative I am involved in, of course, is PGSF. Now that we are an independent organization, we don’t have to answer to anyone, and we are making some very different decisions than we did in the past. Over the years, we have communicated significant funding for our various programs, and we have a lot of money to give away. That includes grants, our scholarship program, and the T-shirt design contest we have been trying to run every year, which both recognizes young design talent and acts as a fundraiser with the winning T-shirts on sale at shows and in gratitude for individual donations at various events.

WTT: Let’s start with the scholarship program, which is where it kind of all begins, getting students interested in studying topics related to the industry and helping them with their school expenses. How many scholarships did you grant over the last year?

JVS: Last year we awarded about 200 scholarships, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, for a total of $550,000. We don’t compete with other scholarship programs, so students can apply to others as well.

WTT: And what do students have to do to qualify? Do they need to be pursuing a specific field of study? And when do they have to have applications in for this year?

JVS: First of all, traditionally, applicants would need to say they wanted to enter an area of ​​print. But I pushed back this year, because if you look at what the schools are teaching, many are teaching user experience (UX), user interfaces (UI), digital marketing, packaging… you have to consider that a student might think they want to pursuers topic X, but they get exposed to Y and Z. If we don’t offer them funding, they may never get that exposure. We need to be broader about who we award these scholarships to. So, for example, fashion merchandising and supply chain, that still touches a lot of print, including various types of textile printing. All applications need to be in by May 1st this year.

WTT: How does the grant program work?

JVS: We have tens of thousands of dollars to give away in grants budgeted this year. These would be grants to programs to support educators for continuing education, funding for students to attend trade shows, equipment donations, and other things. For example, we have done a lot with the Gravure Education Foundation to place the K Printing Proofer in Cal Poly. We want the education community to know we are here to help. The grant program is ongoing, and more information can be found here. We are in the process of updating that part of our website, but basically, requests can include things like:

  • Registration and travel expenses for students to attend industry expos and events.
  • Fees associated with thought leaders and experts to attend and present at a relevant event hosted by the institution.
  • Purchase of equipment to complement a program and expand the school’s current curriculum.

We are open to reviewing other requests as well that will help further education in the industry.

WTT: And you also sponsor a couple of design contests every year as well, right?

JVS: Yes. We sponsor a poster design contest, open to students of all grade levels. The posters help us promote our scholarship programs, and the winning posters are displayed in schools across the United States each year, plus winning entrants receive a $500 check, an award certificate, and will be honored in a national news release, on the PGSF website , and on social media platforms. We also recognize them at upcoming industry events, like the Americas Print Show.

The other one is our T-Shirt Design competition. The T-shirt will be used to promote the possible careers in graphics, availability of scholarships through PGSF, and/or how graphic communications fit into today’s world. The winning entrant will receive a $500 check, an award certificate, and will be honored in a national news release, on the PGSF website, and on social media platforms. We will produce and distribute shirts to students and supporters as well as at both the Americas Print Show and PRINTING United in 2022.

WTT: Those are all terrific programs and so important to the industry at large. Thank you for all you do, Jules! We need more like you in the industry!

(Three PGSF scholarship winners participated in the recent WhatTheyThink LunchNLearn webinar “Finding the Next Generation of Employees,” which was produced in conjunction with PGSF. The slides-and-audio archive can be accessed here.)

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