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APTF Establishes Nathaniel Ford Scholarship

The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) Board of Directors has announced the establishment of the Nathaniel Ford Scholarship. The scholarship was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors on October 8, 2017 at its meeting held in conjunction with the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Atlanta, GA. Photo Oct 08, 8 23 44 PM.jpg
This scholarship was funded by an enormously successful fundraising reception, held in honor of APTA’s 2017-2018 Chair, Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. During the reception Mr. Ford thanked those in attendance for their generosity and announced the creation of a scholarship to honor his father, Nathaniel Ford. He recognized his father as his most influential mentor and stated that “his guidance and support helped me as a leader at various agencies. It helped me recognize just how important our customers are. How critical public transit is to our nation’s communities. And how crucial it is to embrace change.” APTA Chair Ford’s father is a respected member of the transit community, serving  for over 40 years at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 
(​APTA 2017-18 Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Ford, 
and ​​Jannet Walker-Ford at the fundraising​ reception​)
The Nathaniel Ford Scholarship will be awarded for the first time in 2018 to a minority applicant pursuing studies in the fields of Mobility, Logistic Management, Innovation Management and/or Science Technology, with the intent to pursue a career in public transportation. APTF Board Chair, Hugh Mose, recognized Nathaniel P. Ford Sr, who has been a longtime supporter of the APTF, and said “the Foundation is grateful to him for championing the fundraiser and the APTF board looks forward to awarding the Nathaniel Ford Scholarship in 2018, the Foundation’s 30th year.”

The fundraising reception raised more than $120,000, which included $75,000 in corporate sponsorships. An additional $46,000 was raised through 160 individual contributions, made by those who attended the reception held on the evening of October 8 in Atlanta, GA. 

The APTF Board would like to thank the following organizations, who sponsored the fundraising reception: ​

APTF Scholar Spotlight 
Since its inception in 1988 the American Public Transportation Foundation has awarded over $1,000,000 in scholarships in pursuit of the APTF's mission of increase and retain the number of individuals choosing the transit field as a career. This spotlight shines on the scholars and professionals who have received awards and shares how they have progressed in the industry. ​ 
Amanda Vandegrift Headshot .jpg
Amanda Vandegrift
HDR, Project Financial Consultant
2012 APTF Scholarship Recipient​
Describe your role and the work that you do. 
I assist public transportation providers with developing financial strategies to advance their major capital improvements. I work all over the country, and my role changes significantly from project to project. I have primarily specialized in identifying and screening potential federal, state, local, and private revenue sources for major capital projects, matching potential sources to project elements, preparing conceptual financial scenarios, conducting high-level cash flow analyses, and selecting, prioritizing, and positioning projects for federal grants and loans. I absolutely love my job because what I do gets down to the core of what is required to advance much needed public transportation infrastructure and ultimately improve mobility, accessibility, and quality of life in communities across our country. We can put a wealth of visionary plans on the shelf, but we won’t be able to implement them until we develop a sustainable funding strategy and financial plan.
Why public transportation? 
Public transportation is a key element to providing true mobility and accessibility to millions of Americans. While decision makers generally seem open to investing their limited transportation dollars in highway and roadway improvements, the benefits and costs of public transportation remain a hotly debated topic in communities across the country. Many of these communities have been designed around the motor vehicle, making changes in planning and investment in other modes a difficult barrier to overcome. I have watched this issue rise and fall countless times in my hometown of Atlanta. While the region is currently making enormous strides, there is still so much work to be done. Planning for mobility and accessibility rather than prioritizing the movements of a single mode can change a community for the better, providing residents and visitors with enhanced access to jobs and schools, an affordable alternative to driving, increased reliability, reduced congestion, lower emissions, and improved health. I have dedicated my career to helping communities find the funds necessary to achieve these benefits. I haven’t “worked” a day in my career thus far, and feel beyond blessed to have found a career that is also my passion.
How did receiving an APTF Scholarship enhance or make a difference in your career? 
Receiving an APTF Scholarship was far more than receiving the much-needed financial support for my education. I attended the APTA Annual Conference and EXPO to accept my award, and was instantly propelled into the APTA family. I have met a number of APTA members who were instrumental in my career. I was hired by one of those members, Jennifer Mitchell, into my first job as a financial consultant at Parsons Brinckerhoff. I worked for three years as a specialist in transit and rail funding and financing, and was blessed to make an impact on some of the most significant projects in the nation, including the Gateway Program in New York City. I later met my current manager and industry giant, Sharon Greene, through APTA. She has been a huge supporter and role model in my career, and it is an honor to work directly with her as we assist our clients with advancing their transit priorities. I hope to follow in her footsteps and learn all I can from her leadership as I continue to take on additional responsibilities in the industry.  
What does the future of public transportation look like from your vantage point?
From my perspective, the future of public transportation looks bright. Many communities are realizing the benefits of investing in their public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. A growing number of communities have passed significant tax initiatives for public transportation. Transportation investment in general is becoming less of a partisan issue on the federal and state levels. And of course the looming tide of technological advances has the potential to generate significant improvements in mobility and accessibility if accurately executed. Public transportation will always play a key role in our transportation system, and we will need to be proactive in positioning ourselves for the future. I’m honestly quite excited to see where the next decade will take us as an industry.
What would readers be surprised to learn about you? 
I was the first person from my family to graduate from college. I grew up in rural Georgia in a large, blue-collar family of nine. As a kid, I was always trying to show that I was just as good or better than the boys, which is likely why I ultimately decided to study engineering.
How can the industry encourage more young professionals to seek careers in public transportation? 
I believe investing in programs like APTF is a wonderful way to encourage young professionals to seek careers in public transportation. The program had a direct and lasting impact on my career and was a big part of why and how I was able to break into the field. One big piece of advice I have is don’t forget to reach back and help someone else up the ladder. It is never too early to start mentoring someone. Besides, it makes you feel really good to help someone advance in their career and grow as a professional. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those key individuals, who are all active APTA members, pushing me forward in the right directions at the right times. I met many of these members as a direct result of APTF.
What is the biggest disruptor to this industry and how can we capitalize on it to make transit even better? 
The biggest disrupters on our horizon are technological advances such as transportation network companies (TNCs) and autonomous and connected vehicles (AV/CV). I believe we have an opportunity to capitalize on these technological advances by proactively partnering with these newcomers to complement and improve access to existing public transportation services. Our industry needs to begin adapting to the reality that these technologies are already a key piece of our evolving transportation system, and will only become more prominent as AV/CV technology continues to enter the marketplace over the next decade.
How do you stay engaged in APTA? 
I try to attend at least one conference a year in addition to submitting abstracts to present my work as often as possible.

APTF Awards Record Amount of Scholarship Funds​ 

​At a ceremony held on October 10 at the APTA Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA, the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) awarded $149,000 in scholarship funds—a record amount of funds dispersed—to 29 students and public transit professionals.
Since the APTF was created in 1988, the foundation has awarded over $1,000,000 dollars in scholarships to more than 300 scholars pursuing careers in public transportation. This year the APTF board of directors also awarded six single-year scholarships, in addition to the named scholarships. Single-year scholarships are unique for the foundation because they are non-endowed, titled scholarships that are created and awarded in the same year. The six scholarships that were awarded this year were the Dora M. Boswell and John K. Reimer Scholarship, the Mineta Transportation Institute/American Public Transportation Foundation Joint Scholarship, three Leadership APTA Class of 2017 Scholarships and the Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. Scholarship. 

Please visit the Current Scholars page​ to see the 2017 APTF Scholarship Recipients

Help Scholars go BACK TO SCHOOL

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​It’s Back to School time and with that comes a focus on students, at all levels, and their advancement.

The greatest issue facing the public transportation industry is workforce development; leaders are retiring or otherwise leaving the industry faster than qualified replacements can be recruited and trained.

The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) is working to address this problem by providing financial assistance to students who are pursing education in a transit-related area of study or are already employed in the industry and seeking to advance. 

 In 2016 the APTF awarded $130,000 in scholarships to 27 scholars and professionals working in public transportation. The APTF would not be able to support the next generation of transit leaders without the generous support of corporate sponsors and individual donors.

The goal of the BACK TO SCHOOL Annual Giving Campaign is to raise $50,000, which will allow the Foundation’s Board of Directors to increase both the size and number of scholarships that we are able to award over the coming year.


To donate, please click on the campaign flyer or visit the Donate Now link.​


APTF Offering Single-Year Scholarships


The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) is pleased to announce the creation of a Single-Year Scholarship program. These scholarships are unique for the foundation because they are non-endowed, titled scholarships that are created and awarded in the same year. This program was created for individuals and organizations who would like to create an APTF sponsorship but may not have the budget to meet the $50,000 commitment necessary for a permanent, named scholarship. 


Did You Know.jpgSingle-Year Scholarships start at $5,000 and the program offers some flexibility for the donor(s). Scholarships may be funded by a single organization or individual, or through multiple smaller contributions. Individual donors contributing less than the $5,000 minimum (but at least $2,000) may fund a jointly-named scholarship, i.e., the Smith-Jones Scholarship. Contributions in multiples of $5,000 may be used to fund additional scholarships in succeeding years or to fund multiple scholarships in one year. Donors will be recognized in APTF materials and announcements as well as at the APTF scholar ceremony at the APTA Annual meeting. Donors will also have the opportunity to suggest scholar selection criteria for their scholarship, i.e. area of study, geographical location, etc.


Single year scholarship recipients will be chosen along with the named scholarships at the APTF Board’s scholarship selection meeting in August.  The scholarships will be awarded during the following APTA Annual Meeting. Additional information may be found on the program flyer​. If are interested in sponsoring a Single-Year Scholarship, or if you have any questions, please contact Lindsey Robertson at 



APTF 2017 - What's Next:


The American Public Transportation Foundation made great strides in 2016, and with your help, we are well on our way to making 2017 even more successful.  Examples of the progress being made this year include:

  • Fully funding the James Cowen Scholarship. As a result of the hard work and personal commitment of APTF Board Member Rick Simonetta, the Cowen Scholarship is now fully funded, which will allow the first scholarship bearing his name to be awarded this October.
  • Awarding our first Single-Year Scholarships. Thanks to the generosity of the Leadership APTA Class of 2017, we will be able to award single-year scholarships named in honor of Joe Niegoski, long-time Program Manager; the Leadership APTA Committee; and the Class of 2017 itself.
  • Establishing our first University Partner Scholarship.  Implementing the suggestion made several years ago by Board Member Alan Wulkan, APTF will join forces with the Mineta Institute to offer at least one scholarship that is jointly funded by the Foundation and the Institute.
  • Developing a new Strategic Plan. Building on the work done three years ago by Barbara Gannon, Crystal Lyons, the New Initiatives Committee, under the leadership of Board Member Anne Louise Rice, is working hard to complete the Foundation’s first true Strategic Plan.

Please consider contributing to the Foundation so that we can continue to fulfill our mission to increase and retain the number of individuals choosing the transit field as a career by providing scholarships and engagement opportunities to deserving students and transit professionals – our future leaders.


2016 AP​TF Scholars Celebrated at the APTA Annual Meeting



On September 13, the APTF presented scholarships to the 27 scholars at the 2016 APTA Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA. A total of $130,000 in academic scholarships was awarded, the highest amount in the history of the Foundation.


​At the ceremony the APTF recognized the recipients of the inaugural Valarie J. McCall and Bombardier scholarships:


Golda Speyer is the recipient of the Valarie J. McCall scholarship and is sponsored by the National Transit Institute at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Golda will use the scholarship to assist her as she completes her Master's Degree in transportation planning while working full-time in a local planning agency. She hopes pursue a career as a transportation land use planner.

(Pictured left to right: APTA President and CEO, Dick White, APTF Board Chair, Jennifer Mitchell, Golda Speyer, APTA Immediate Past Chair, Valarie McCall, Paul Larrousse, APTA Chair, Doran Barnes)​​​​​​​


Coleman_Cristal.jpgCristal Coleman is the recipient of the Bombardier Scholarship and is sponsored by HDR. Cristal is thankful to Bombardier and the APTF for providing the scholarship, which will help her as she works to complete her degree in Construction Management at the University of the District of Columbia.


The APTF also offered a one-time scholarship in 2016 in the name of Clarence “Cal” Marsella. As General Manager at RTD in Denver, Cal championed and directed FasTracks, a project nationally recognized for its innovation and vision. APTA recognized his outstanding work by naming him Outstanding Public Transportation Manager in 2006. The scholarship offered in Cal’s name was made possible by his family and his wife Sheri, who requested that donations be made in his memory to the foundation.  

Jacob Neu is the recipient of the Cal Marsell​a scholarship and is sponsored by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As a veteran, Jacob is honored to receive the scholarship in Cal’s name, which will help him as he completes his degree in Civil Engineering​.


See the full list of 2016 APTF Scholars 

Our Mission: 'To increase and retain the number of individuals choosing the transit field as a career by providing scholarships and engagement opportunities to deserving students and transit professionals - our future leaders.'​ 

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Phone: 202.496.4818