AIA Ohio Foundation Seeks to Advance Members Needs
Bruce Sekanick, FAIA, OAA

While many members associate the AIA Ohio Foundation with scholarships, the charter of the organization defines a much broader role within the design community. From education and research to awards and prizes along with scholarships and the support of scholarly work, the Foundation was founded as an entity that touched every part of the profession. With a long history of scholarship support, the Foundation has, in recent years, looked for ways the organization can reach a wider range of individuals and organizations. Through the Foundation grant program and the AIAS chapter grants, the Foundation attempts to meet the needs of members at all stages of their careers.

The focus on student scholarships has continued for many years and scholarships remain our primary objective. However, while scholarships are an important part of the educational process, they only reach a small number of individuals in each program. Prior to the pandemic, the Foundation developed the AIAS Chapter Grants. These grants are presented to AIAS chapters at each of the five (5) accredited Ohio architectural programs. With student meetings and board member presentations, the AIAS grants have become an effective way for the AIA to become connected with the students early in their academic careers. The annual funding of the programs helps develop a connection that is often missing in the practice-academia domain. The funding helps the AIAS chapters attend regional meetings, advance their speaker or academic programs, or plan other events, while the AIA benefits from the exposure and the opportunity to engage students. The addition of these grants creates a win-win scenario for the profession, the students, and our architectural programs.

The one missing part of the Foundation’s funding program until recently was the funding or support for research, scholarly work, publications, or other awards. In 2019, the Foundation developed a new grant program that assists chapters, organizations, and individuals in the development of new programs. Intended as a catalyst for new events or activities, the grant program has been developed to provide the seed money necessary to plan an event. While the programs approved for funding are sometimes very different, the goal of the grant program is to fund new opportunities, not fund ongoing operations. Due to the number of applications received early this year, the grant program for 2022 was closed in May. The Foundation Board is currently reviewing the application process and plans to open applications again at the beginning of 2023.

As an organization that supports the architectural profession, the AIA Ohio Foundation has made significant strides over the past ten years in becoming a resource for chapters, students, and those affiliated with the organization. We welcome feedback from any member and would be happy to discuss ways that we can better serve the needs of the AIA Ohio membership.