PSI Retrospective: Nini Krever
Q & A PSI Retrospective: Nini Krever
Q: When did the PSI scholarship program start? And why did PSI launch the program?
A: The PSI scholarship program started in 1995. We had money in our treasury, and we wanted to give back to the chapter membership and support our own. Offering scholarships to our members’ children—and their employees, in the beginning—seemed like the right thing to do.
Q: Who were the driving forces behind the program’s founding?
A: Wayne DiCastri of Pioneer Fibers was PSI president when the scholarship was founded, and he was one of the driving forces to get the program started.
Q: How long have you been involved with the program?
A: Judges for the scholarships are past PSI presidents. I’ve been a past president since 2002, so I’ve been a scholarship judge for about 18 years.
Q: Why did you decide to get involved with the PSI scholarship program?
A: I was involved in a scholarship program in my home community as a foreign language judge. Top seniors, one from each study area, from every high school in the two counties here competed for financial prizes. After reviewing the candidates’ CVs, we interviewed them, and it was an enormously positive, encouraging experience meeting the top of the top.
I felt the same when I started working with PSI’s scholarship program. It makes you proud of and inspired by the youth today. I look forward each year to learn about some outstanding, extraordinary kids, which gives me confidence that our future is in good hands. As chair of PSI’s Scholarship Committee, I have the honor of calling each winner and announcing their award. I get to talk with each student about his or her high-school successes and college plans. The competition is intense; the conversation is touching.
Q: What keeps you engaged in it after all these years?
A: It’s rewarding knowing that we’re helping each other by supporting the children of our members’ employees. And the collegiality among the past presidents/judges is something we all look forward to. It’s an honor to be a judge and a way to keep our past presidents involved in the chapter. We all find it inspiring to read the students’ information packets.
Q: How has the program raised funds throughout its history?
A: We started by using earned income from PSI’s fall conferences. We started with two scholarships at $1,000 each. That grew to more scholarships each year, and we created a raffle campaign to raise funds at industry events throughout the year. It’s a lot of work to raise $3,000, $5,000, or $8,000 by selling raffle tickets in increments of $25 to $100!
That system evolved into an event created to raise scholarship funds and for industry colleagues to have fun. Beginning in 2012, PSI started holding a bowling tournament every October in Chicago in conjunction with the Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show. That event has raised enough funds to allow us to steadily increase the number of scholarships and their value. This year, PSI awarded a record nine scholarships valued at $2,000 each—$18,000 in total!
That’s a very respectable amount of money to raise. We’re fortunate to have generous and charitable contributors in our industry who want to pay it forward to the next generation.
Q: How does the PSI scholarship program plan to raise funds for 2021 given the limitations of this pandemic era?
A: The PSI scholarship program’s silver anniversary year coincides with this unstable environment, and we aren’t able to have our usual fall fundraising event. We still want to raise even more funds to celebrate 25 years of helping smart and accomplished high school seniors pursue their higher-learning dreams. We just have to go about it differently. Our target is to raise $25,000 in our 25th year, and we’re making other adjustments to the process.
Q: How could the PSI program’s giving approach change in the coming years?
A: We hope to have one grand prize of $5,000 and other awards of $2,500. College costs aren’t going down, so PSI is increasing each award. PSI has sent letters to all past donors requesting continued support. We’re also targeting companies that have had students who received scholarships in prior years. We’re hoping that, especially in this unusual year, we’ll be able to raise and distribute more—and larger—scholarships than ever before. We also plan to hold some fun online auctions to raise funds.
Q: How many students has the program helped and how much money has the program awarded over the years?
A: We’ve probably donated over $150,000 to nearly 100 students over the past 25 years.
Q: Do you plan to remain involved with the PSI scholarship program?
A: I look forward to continuing with the project. It’s a great change-of-pace activity. Although it’s connected to the paper industry, it’s not work. I truly look forward to receiving the application packets, spending time reading the essays and letters, and looking at the students’ scores. They’re so smart!
And I can say that all the judges advocate for the students they select, arguing why one is more deserving than another. Remember, this is entirely merit-based, not based on financial need at all. We prefer not to know about any financial issues, which could influence us in our decisions. These kids’ parents work with our colleagues, so scholastic excellence and community involvement is what we want to know. I have high expectations that we will be able to meet our goals this year.
Note: PSI’s scholarship season runs from about November to June. The chapter posts the scholarship application online in the fall and accepts applications until mid-March. The applications go to the judges in April, with the first elimination round in May and final selections made in June. Scholarship funds are sent to each student’s selected college or university by mid-August.
To support PSI’s scholarship program, click HERE for a copy of the donation form. Thank you in advance for your support, which will help deserving students pursue their higher education!