Tis the season—Give wisely and invest in the future

December 15, 2016
By: Vicki Bell

It’s that time of year when organization after organization asks you to open your wallets and contribute to their cause. Some are legitimate and upstanding; others are not. Here are two examples of programs worthy of fabricators’ consideration.

I don’t know about you, but I receive many solicitations for donations to causes of all kinds--both in the mail and over the phone--particularly at this time of the year. It’s a time when more people are in a giving mood, thanks to a combination of the holiday spirit and the waning opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation for the current year.

We all have causes that are near and dear to our hearts. Perhaps your family has loved ones suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or any of the other conditions for which organizations that raise funds for research exist. You may give to these regularly. You are to be commended for doing so, as you are helping people for generations to come.

There also are other entities you can contribute to that will help this and future generations in an area close to fabricators’ hearts—skilled workforce development.

Some communities have established programs between local businesses and educational facilities designed to provide training to meet workforce needs. If such an endeavor exists where you are, consider becoming involved. Perhaps they need funds, coordinators, equipment, trainers, or planning assistance. You’ll never know until you ask.

No program is available in your area? Maybe you could look into starting one if there is a need.

Or, you can participate by contributing to other programs that are designed to attract and train the manufacturing workforce nationwide. Here are two you might want to consider for your giving list.

Workshops for Warriors

Workshops for Warriors is a state-licensed, board governed, fully audited 501(c)(3) nonprofit school that trains, certifies, and helps place veterans, wounded warriors, and transitioning service members into advanced manufacturing careers.

The school offers two primary programs: welding and machining. It teaches and certifies to the nationally recognized standards of the American Welding Society, National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), Mastercam University, and SolidWorks, which are portable and stackable credentials.

The WFW advanced manufacturing classes in welding, CAD/CAM programming (SolidWorks and Mastercam), CNC machining (CNC milling, CNC turning, CNC laser, and CNC waterjet) create a national training pipeline to increase the manufacturing workforce while providing employment to veterans. Students gain their skills through classroom education and extensive hands-on-training.

The programs are funded through private donations. Eighty-three percent of the organization’s revenue goes towards the training programs, which are provided at no cost to veterans.

Manufacturing summer camp at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi.

I had the opportunity to sit down with founder Hernán Luis y Prado at FABTECH 2016. I have met few people as enthusiastic about what he does as Hernán. The organization has big plans to expand the program beyond its San Diego-based facility, but that takes money.

You can find out more about WFW here, and you can watch the stories of veterans and graduates Alex and Scott.

Nuts, Bolts, & Thingamajigs®

Another organization you might want to consider is Nuts, Bolts, & Thingamajigs®, the Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association. Through its manufacturing summer camps and scholarships, NBT is inspiring the next generation of manufacturers, welders, engineers, and more. It is working to dispel the myth that these jobs are low paying, dirty, dangerous, and mostly a man’s work.

Since 1990, NBT has awarded scholarships to students majoring in programs that lead to careers in manufacturing. Scholarships are awarded twice per year, in the Spring and in the Fall.

In NBT’s summer camps, campers design and build a product experiencing the start to finish satisfaction of creating something they can show off with pride. Throughout the process, they learn how to do CAD design and operate various kinds of manufacturing machinery under the close supervision of expert manufacturing trainers.

They also tour local manufacturing facilities learning what kinds of jobs exist, what skills and training are required, and how those businesses developed. They hear directly from local manufacturing company owners how they started their businesses, applying basic entrepreneurship principles to understand how a single product idea becomes a business.

If you give, give wisely. Do your due diligence and look closely into those organizations vying for your dollars. Make sure your contribution is going toward a worthy cause and not someone’s lavish lifestyle. It happens.

Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell


FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209