A message from David Quirk, SPE Canadian Educational Foundation Chair, and Helen Chang, SPE Canadian Educational Trust Past Chair
As chair and past chair of SPE’s Canadian educational entity, we wanted to update the industry and members about the foundation’s work. Most engineers working in the Canadian oil and gas industry and many Canadian SPE members may not realize that SPE Canada has a Canadian Educational Foundation for its members. So, a bit of a history lesson is in order.
The SPE Canadian Educational Foundation currently has nearly USD 1,000,000. Most of the funding came from the Petroleum Society of the CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum). In 1999, the Petroleum Society created the 50th Anniversary Educational Trust Fund “to support educational programs, exhibits, projects, special events, conferences, seminars, meetings, awards, endowment of chairs, and scholarships operated, administered and conducted by other registered charities, or agents of the Crown, for the purposes of promoting, educating, or disseminating information related to, the petroleum industry.” In 2009, when the Petroleum Society of Canada merged with SPE, the educational trust fund was consolidated with SPE Canada, which had donated USD 200,000 toward scholarships, and the SPE Canadian Educational Trust was formed.
Because trustees found the organizational structure limiting, governance changes were undertaken to change the “Trust” into a “Society,” and, in 2016, the SPE Canadian Educational Foundation was created. The new foundation honors many of the initial Petroleum Society Trust’s purposes and goals while maintaining the vision of SPE.
The foundation’s goal is to have an educational reach across the country, supporting industry members, university students, and high school-aged and younger students. It plans to achieve these goals with a variety of initiatives, including continued distribution of scholarships, high school science fairs, and helping fund a webcast initiative for Calgary SPE events, giving other Canadian regions access to presentations.
The governance change also allows the foundation to accept individual donations. Members can donate to the SPE Canadian Education Foundation and receive a Canadian tax receipt for that donation when they renew their SPE membership.
In July 2016 we accepted our first major donation. The Benediktson family donated USD 100,000 to the SPE Canadian Educational Foundation to create a scholarship endowment fund. This Stephan V. Benediktson Scholarship Fund will provide one scholarship annually in the amount of USD 3,000 to a Canadian student in the third year of study in a Canadian or US university bachelor of science in engineering program with preference to those who are enrolled in a petroleum engineering program and are a student member of SPE.
To date, the Canadian Foundation and its previous entity has donated USD 300,000 since 2009 towards scholarships, science fairs, and charitable organizations.
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