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Last week, I wrote about the many worthy causes that FPSA Councils are supporting and how proud I am to work with such dedicated members. This was further reinforced last week at our Annual Conference, in meetings with our members and attending the FPSA Auction which generated a significant amount of money for these very causes. And yet, in talking with some members I realized I left out one huge program in my last piece. In fact, it is our largest Giving Back Program of all.

The Career Development Scholarship Program has been running strong for almost fifteen years. This great cause supports the educational efforts of employees and family of FPSA member companies. Most importantly, the FPSA Foundation Board approved a significant increase to this year’s scholarships, doubling the award to $10,000 and increasing the number of winners to twenty. Yes, you can do the math. $200,000 in scholarships for just this year alone!

Since starting the CDS, it has been our pleasure to see the incredibly impressive qualifications of the FPSA “family”. Year after year, we see high GPA’s, ambitious goals and much in-demand majors which truly give you faith and confidence in the younger generation that will soon be joining our workforce.

And yet, as much as we push out news to our members about this program, and despite how eye-catching these numbers are, I’m never shocked to hear from members that they know nothing about it. I choose to think that this is more about how inundated we all are with communications, rather than the fact that we might be communicating poorly. But who knows?

Also asked last week by new members was how to join FPSA’s Councils and Networks and what is the difference between the two sets of groups? Once again, I thought we had done a pretty good job sharing the process with our new members but apparently not. This is certainly not due to disinterest on their part. I guess that in our hyper-connected world, our brain simply needs to filter out information that  doesn’t fit within the box where we are working at any given time. “I’ll get to that later,” I’ve said a million times and by the time we get to later, it’s gone. As such, staff recognizes the need to keep getting out there and telling our story.

In short, our Councils are members organized in industry verticals that address issues of common concern within that segment. The Networks, on the other hand, address topics that span across all verticals (albeit sometimes in different ways) such as food safety, technology, and packaging. Also included in this horizontal structure are the Women’s Alliance Network and the Young Professional Group. Simply put, to participate in FPSA Councils, your company must be a member of FPSA. For the Networks that is not the case, with non-member participation permitted for up to one year.

Another question we fielded last week was, how many of these groups can I belong to? The truth is, there is no limit, but my personal recommendation is to take it slow. After all, you already have a day job! After this conversation, one of these new members decided to join the Dairy Council (where much of his business lives), and the Packaging Network (which suits his product offering). For me, that is ideal.

How to join? It couldn’t be easier. Just let me know which one you are interested in and we’ll have staff set that up. Maybe you’ll read this today and follow up. Maybe next month. It’s all the same. We love to have our members get more engaged.

By the way, going back to the original topic, if you are an FPSA member and have family members with a big tuition bill, consider the Career Development Scholarship. We’ll be accepting applications until April 17th. Good luck!

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP