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Now Accepting Applications for 2017

In furthering our mission of increasing and retaining the number of individuals choosing the transit field as a career, the APTF will award a minimum of twenty scholarships, ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 each, to college students or transit professionals who are interested in pursuing or advancing in a career in the public transportation industry.


Awards cover the academic year, beginning in the fall 2017 semester, and assist with tuition costs or other educational expenses.

Applicants must be college sophomores (30 hours or more satisfactorily completed), juniors, seniors, or those seeking advanced degrees at a fully accredited institution​, with a 3.0 minimum GPA. All applicants must be sponsored by a member organization of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Any member may serve as a sponsor.

The 2017 scholars will receive free registration and a travel stipend to attend APTA's 2017 Annual Meeting and EXPO, which will be held in Atlanta, GA, October 8-11. At the conference they will have the opportunity to attend workshops and sessions as well as meet with industry professionals from across the country.

All applications must be submitted electronically by 5:00 p.m. (eastern time) on Friday, June 16, 2017.

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. ​

FullSizeRender.jpg​Sean Varsolona
Transportation Planner II
2013 Richard J. Bouchard Scholarship Recipient

1. Describe your role and the work that you do.

My official title is Transportation Planner II with AECOM. The project that brought me on board is the Focus40 project for MassDOT/MBTA, for which I am one of the lead planners. In addition, I provide planning support to other projects that AECOM is a part of. These include the CT Safe Routes to School and traffic related work for a new casino opening in Everett, MA​.

2. Why public transportation?

I grew up loving trains. When I was a senior at Swarthmore College I studied abroad in Copenhagen and absolutely admired how well their entire transit system runs. When I returned to Swarthmore for my senior spring semester, I took Urban Economics, which ended up being my favorite class during undergrad. Then, after working a few years in the finance industry, I realized my passion was with transportation and specifically, public transportation. I researched graduate schools for Urban Planning and luckily, Rutgers (the public university of my home state) was very highly ranked for its master’s program in City and Regional Planning. Attending that program was one of the greatest life decisions I have ever made.

3. How did receiving an APTF Scholarship enhance or make a difference in your career? 

Aside from gaining great friendships with the other scholarship winners in my year--many of whom I still speak with--the biggest benefit I gained was getting one-on-one experience with true transit experts. It opened doors for me on a professional front. My scholarship was sponsored by AECOM, my current firm, and I am certain the connections gained, and respect I earned with AECOM employees, allowed me to earn my current position.  

4. What does the future of public transportation look like from your vantage point?

Statistics tells us that millennials want to move out of the suburbs and back to the cities where their entire lives can be lived within a subway, train or bus ride. Due to this, I see that the need for strong public transit is greater than ever. The North-South Rail Link in Boston is a project that I greatly hope to see come to fruition. Getting a one-seat ride from Lowell (my current city and the northern terminus of an MBTA commuter rail line) to Providence, Rhode Island, would be a great way to unlock jobs, culture and a wide range of other positives.   

5.What would readers be surprised to learn about you?

When I am not at AECOM or out with friends, I like to produce my own music and shoot photography. They are hobbies that provide a creative release and keep my mind working in ways that I feel also benefit my work.  That was another benefit of studying abroad. While in Copenhagen, I took a creative industries course where the professor emphasized the importance of artistic thought to drive creation in industries that might be unrelated. The importance of “thinking outside the box” in our industry is, in my opinion, very important to achieve societal goals and I feel that these two hobbies help give me various perspectives on how to approach solutions to problems.

6. How can the industry encourage more young professionals to seek careers in public transportation? 

More colleges and universities should offer classes that are related to transit or urban life that can help students understand how public transportation is beneficial to the community. As an economics major, Urban Economics was the one class that made me say, “Yes, this is what I really want to be doing in my life.” Additionally, I feel that the shift back to city life in younger generations inherently leads one to appreciate a strong public transportation system. Suburbs are more auto-centric, whereas cities thrive when supplemented by a strong public transit system.  


APTF Now 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.

​APTF: 2016 in Review​

​​Under the guidance of Chair Jennifer Mitchell, the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) had a successful year. In 2016 the foundation topped the scholarship award record set last year and awarded $130,000 to 27 scholars and transit professional. The average scholarship awarded was $5,000, which meant that the awards had a meaningful impact for those that received them. Since the foundation began in 1988 more than $950,000 has been invested in over 280 qualified scholars and transit professionals.

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This year the APTF was pleased to award two named scholarships for the first time: one in the name of APTA’s immediate past chair Valarie J. McCall and one funded by Bombardier. The foundation was also awarded a one-time scholarship in the name of a longtime colleague and friend of the industry Clarence “Cal” Marsella. The scholarship offered in Cal’s name was made possible by his family, who requested that donations be made in his memory to the foundation. 

In 2016 the foundation conducted several successful fundraising activities. An event held at the APTA Annual Meeting in Los Angeles brought in more than $40,500 and the annual Golf Tournament, raised an additional $11,500. The foundation also produced a successful “Back to School” fundraising campaign, which increased the presence of the foundation and highlighted the work the APTF is doing to support scholars and transit professionals as they continue their education and advance their careers in public transit. 

_DSC9719.jpgAs 2016 draws to a close, the foundation is actively working to raise funds to reach the $50,000 threshold for a named scholarship for Jim Cowen, former APTA chair and Hall of Fame Member. The effort to fund a permanent, named scholarship began shortly after Cowen’s death in 2005 when Reba Malone, who was Chair of APTA when​ the APTF was formed, created the James Cowen Scholarship Fund. Since then many have contributed to the Fund but after more than ten years, we were only half way to our goal. In July of this year Rick Simonetta, a 25-year member of the APTF Board, took on the challenge to lead the effort to achieve full funding in 2016. As noted by Mr. Simonetta “[Jim] was an inspiration and a visionary at a time when our industry was positioned to make great strides across many fronts.”

In 2016 the Foundation, the Board of Directors, and all of our donors have worked hard to further APTF’s 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. However, there is still much to do. Please keep an eye out in 2017 for new opportunities to engage in the foundation and support the next generation of transit leaders. 

If you are interested in contributing to the Jim Cowen Scholarship Fund or the foundation General Fund, please click here ​to make an online donation.  

​2016 APTF Donor Recognition

The American Public Transportation Foundation would like to thank everyone who contributed in 2016. It is through the generosity of our donors and event sponsors that the APTF was able to give $130,000 in scholarships to 27 deserving scholars and transportation professionals this year.  Donors are recognized below by giving level.

Event Sponsors

​Foothill Transit

APTA Business Member Activity Fund


MV Transportation

Keolis America Inc.

McDonald Transit Associates, Inc.

Parsons Corporation

​Nova Bus

Wabtec Corporation

Michael Baker International

ALSTOM Transportation Incorporated

Herzog Transit Services, Inc.

Harris Rand Lusk

The General Contractors Association Of New York, Inc.


Gifts of $1,000 or more

George Dorshimer

Roger Snoble

Frances Hooper

RidgeGate Investments, Inc.

Michael Scanlon

Alan Wulkan

William Millar

Hugh Mose

Anne Louise Rice

Bradlink, LLC.

Paul Ballard

R.C. Buchanan

Natalie Cornell

Sharon Greene

Jeffrey Hamm

INIT Innovations in Transportation

Jeanne Krieg

Diana Mendes

Michael Schneider

Rick Simonetta

Gifts of $500 to $999​

​W. Thomsen
David Turney
Reba Malone
Robert Prince
Frank DiGiacomo
Jeffrey Hiott
Kevin Adams
Alternate Concepts, Inc. ACI
Joseph Gibson
Jack Gilstrap​
​Vasti Amaro
John Andrews
Doran Barnes
Christopher Boylan
​Flora Castillo
Francis Coleman
Grace Crunican
Patricia Elizondo
Nuria Fernandez
​Jill Hough
J. Roger Morton
Jerry Premo
Patrick Scully
Jim Srygley
Gary Thomas
Ronald Tober
Thomas Waldron
Jeffrey Wharton


Gifts of $100 to $499​

​​Paul Larrousse
Mary Childress

Michael Jones

Beverly Scott

Sandra Draggoo

Debra Johnson

Lee Kemp

Kenneth McDonald

Bruce Abel

Aspen Home Services, Inc.

Robert Bright

Bill Brunet

Joe Calabrese

Mortimer Downey

Joseph D'Urso

Eno Center for Transportation

Dave Fulton

Jennifer Mitchell​

Jeffrey Nelson
Darold Pieper

​Matthew Pollack

Safe Fleet

Bonnie Shepherd
Samuel Smith

Raynard and Cheryl Soon

Steven Strauss

Junling Sun

William Van Meter

Jay Whitelaw

John Adler

John Bartosiewicz

Pamela Boswell

B. Bundgaard

Sue Dreier

Thomas Furmaniak

Huelon Harrison

Dorsey Houtz

Janice Li

Stepfone Montgomery

​Jesse Oliver

Paula Pienton

Rose Sheridan

Paul Skoutelas

Amy Smith

Vivid Concepts, Inc.

Maggie Walsh

Richard White

Mark Johnson

Joseph Niegoski

Jarrett Stoltzfus

Matthew Welbes

Mike Ake

Rolf Asphaug

Bombardier Transportation

Alexander Bond

Charles Cohen

Andre Colaiace

Shirley DiLibero​

Leandre Gibson

Lenay Gore

Robert Healy

Angela Iannuzziello

Petra Mollet

Mary Jo Morandini

Iwalani Palicz

David R. Phelps

Stephanie Rasmussen

Tom Rubin

Glenn Runyan

Michael Sanders

Judy Shanley

Charles Sisk

Marc Anthony Soto

Paul Stevenson

Thomas Tansley

Brian Tynan

Peter Varga

Megan Wagner

Wolcott Volunteer Fire Dept.

Gifts un​der $100​

​​Susan Hadfield

F. Scott Jewell

Michael Naughton

Shalonda Baldwin

Sean Cagan

Raymond Mui

Cassandra Borchers

Tremell Brown

Ildefanso Burgos

Gregory Cameron

Kimberly Dunham

Chad Edwards

Kristin Essner

Darnell Grisby

​Curtis Koleber

Tina Lee

James Morrell

Jaibala Patel

David Rodriguez

Rick Spangler

Cain Williamson

Robert Melich

Kim Becklund

Mary Blue

Amy Budner

Nathan Conable

Jennifer DeBruhl

Robert Duncan

​Roxane & David Dupuis
Kimberly Fragola

Freddie Fuller

Sara Goldberg

Griffus & Partners

Karen Harvey

Dana Hook

Madeline Horwich

Howard Johnson

Jack Martinson

Geoffrey Okamoto

Louwana Oliva

Lindsey Robertson

Jamaal Schoby

Ray Sosa

Rich Weaver

Ty Bobit

Samantha Crump

William & Sharon Elfenbein

Rodney Ghearing

Deanna Leggett

Marybeth McCormack

Scott Hardy

Robert & Terese Roland

Mantill Williams

Jose Reyes

Udungs Ikwut-Ukwa


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 Marsella 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


Help Scholars go BACK TO SCHOOL

back to school_Page_1.jpgIt’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.​



Please donate to the American Public Transportation Foundation today!

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.'​ 

American Public Transportation Foundation
1300 I Street NW
Suite 1200 East
Washington, DC 20005


Phone: 202.496.4818