AHFA’s Furniture Foundation has awarded its 2017 grants totaling nearly $75,000. These grants will benefit education programs targeting rising furniture designers, factory workers and front-line manufacturing management personnel.
The Foundation was established in 1948 to support research and educational initiatives aimed at improving management, manufacturing and marketing within the home furnishings industry. Since 1990, the Foundation has distributed more than $3.5 million in scholarships and grants.
The 2017 awards include $9,000 to Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., to continue the school’s scholarship program for furniture design students. The grant will fund three $3,000 scholarships for the 2017-2018 school year. ASU’s furniture design program provides students with a bachelor of science in industrial design focused on product development, creative problem-solving, environmental concerns and manufacturing requirements.
The Foundation also designated two grants to support the new Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) Alexander County Furniture Academy in Taylorsville, N.C. One grant is earmarked for the purchase of a new industrial sewing machine to help increase the training capacity in the Furniture Academy’s sewing class.
The second grant, in the amount of $15,000, will provide 60 scholarships covering the Alexander Furniture Academy’s $250 tuition for 30 students each semester.
The Alexander Furniture Academy is modeled after the highly successful CVCC Furniture Academy launched at the school’s main campus in Hickory in 2015. The industry-driven training programs were designed by local furniture manufacturers to prepare students for sewing operator and upholstering positions that are in high demand by the region’s largest employers. A Furniture Foundation grant last year provided scholarships for the first 30 students in the Alexander County program.
The largest of the 2017 grants was awarded to Mississippi State University’s Franklin Furniture Institute in Starkville, Miss. The $44,900 award will allow the Institute to deliver four manufacturing management programs in Mississippi. Each will provide front-line supervisors in the furniture industry with basic training in the areas of modern manufacturing, leadership and management.
The course will be offered to up to 15 individuals in four different locations between August 2017 and July 2018. The training is presented at a manufacturing facility – rather than at the Franklin Institute – so that actual manufacturing issues can be addressed during the course of study. Results of previously delivered programs include a stronger supervisory team with improved leadership skills.
The AHFA Furniture Foundation accepts grant proposals in March each year. The Foundation board reviews the proposals and makes funding decisions in April.