Above: PPEF’s executive committee meets via Zoom in October 2020.


Much of PPAI’s success stems from the efforts of industry professionals who volunteer on the Association’s committees, work groups and other programs. This 11th installment of an ongoing PPB series introducing the volunteers, committees and initiatives that have helped make the Association what it is today, takes a closer look at the Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF). 

PPEF provides college scholarships to promotional products industry employees and their dependent children. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing the opportunity to give back to the industry through tax-deductible gifts to support the scholarship program. Scholarships are awarded to help defray education expenses for those students who have exhibited a commitment to education and in many cases, some level of financial need. 

“As an independent nonprofit organization, volunteers are elected to serve as trustees on the PPEF Board of Trustees,” says Sara Besly, PPEF executive director. “The board is financially and morally responsible for determining and carrying out the mission and goals of PPEF. All fiscal oversight, fiscal liability, policy development and the overall well-being of PPEF are placed in the hands of the board by its charter, bylaws and other legal documents. Trustees serve as good will ambassadors and fundraisers for PPEF and serve on one of PPEF’s four standing committees—Fundraising, Scholarship, Marketing & Recognition or Strategic Planning & Budget—to assist with the operation and governance of PPEF.

In 2020, PPEF awarded $276,750 in scholarships to 160 students. PPEF has grown substantially over the past eight years; in comparison, in 2013 $100,000 was awarded in scholarships. For 2021, PPEF is budgeting to award $278,750 to 160 students. PPEF has also increased its support of need-based students over the years. Today, need-based recipients receive $2,250 in scholarships compared to the merit-based recipients receiving $1,250 in scholarships.

Besly notes that since PPEF receives all of its funding from donations from industry individuals and companies, the pandemic is affecting the amount of contributions being received and PPEF is expecting to have a challenging fundraising year in 2021. She says, “PPEF usually hosts a successful golf event in Las Vegas during the PPAI Expo, so we are starting off the year with lost revenue that is not easily replaced. Despite the uncertainty of the fundraising revenue for this year, the PPEF board is fully committed to helping industry families weather the storm and pay for college. During the budget development, the board wanted to keep the level of scholarships the same as last year even if that meant cutting into the cash reserves to cover this. The final budget does keep the scholarships at the same level with 160 scholarships planned for 2021.”   


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.