Philanthropic projects: The PMI Educational Foundation

The Project Management Institute is a place you will likely have come across if you have been involved in projects for any length. You may have even heard of PMIEF, the PMI Educational Foundation. But what is it actually doing?
It was sponsored research I assumed, but it turned out that I was wrong. John Rickards, the Chair of PMIEF, presented at PMI’s Leadership Institute Meeting last month in Dublin and described exactly what the Foundation does.
PMIEF was established in 1990. It has a wider scope than PMI. It is about using project management to benefit society. John stated that the Education Foundation actively seeks to establish bridges into project management. “We also work with private sector school teachers, disaster aid and other non-profit organizations.”
The three areas in which PMIEF focuses its efforts are:
For future success, we must build a society that is better prepared
Building a workforce that is better prepared
Build a better response to times of need

Project-based education
PMIEF works with PMI Chapters to improve the skills of educators. They believe project management is an essential skill for administrators and teachers, as well as students. Volunteers are involved in community projects. Project-centered education is believed to result in better school achievement, greater pupil engagement, and better attendance. However, we were not directed to any independent research to support that belief. We did hear two case studies about education from PMI Chapters.
PMIEF developed the PM Toolkit for Youth. It is available for download for non-commercial purposes. Schools can also use it. It is a modular course that teaches basic project management skills, helping students organize their school projects and make sound decision making.
During the creation of the Toolkit, they realized that students didn’t have sufficient presentation skills to present the results of their projects. So they added a module on presentation skills.
Project management is a professional skill
PMIEF supports project management as a career choice and professional skill. It offers academic scholarships, awards and grants for curriculum development. It also offers training courses for the unemployed or underemployed.
John stated that project management is one of few fields that can produce people who can lead work and others.
Project management is about results and employers want them. Training and research can help improve job prospects and companies’ ability to execute on their strategic plans.
Dealing with disaster
NGO’s are there to help after a natural or humanitarian disaster. Project management techniques can help them be more efficient and make better use of donor dollars. This is the basis for PMD Pro, a certification program that targets non-profits. It was launched last year.
PMIEF also offers a training program called Skills For Life, which is available in English or Spanish. It is a short course in project management that can be taught in just a few hours. John explained that the course has been taught 150 times in 33 different countries. Half of the participants have been PMI members, and the other half are not.
PMIEF’s work in disaster relief organizations also includes training materials and tools, methodologies, staff training, grants, and training volunteers.
John stated, “Through the Educational Foundation, we’re hoping the next generation will be able to do a better job than us.” Although I don’t believe the first generation of professional project managers did a bad job, it is a positive thing if they can do better.
Visit their website to learn more about PMIEF. In about a week, I’ll share with you the two case studies that PMIEF has been involved in.