Philanthropic projects: the PMI Educational Foundation

Education = future written on a blackboard

If you’ve been around projects for any length of time you have probably come across the Project Management Institute. You might even have heard of PMIEF: the PMI Educational Foundation. But what does it actually do?

I thought it mainly sponsored research, but it turns out I was wrong. PMIEF’s Chair, John Rickards, gave a presentation at PMI’s Leadership Institute Meeting in Dublin last month and explained exactly what the Foundation gets up to.

Incorporated in 1990, PMIEF has a wider brief than PMI. It’s about leveraging project management for social good. “The Education Foundation actively works to build bridges into the project management profession,” John said. “We’re working with private sector school teachers, disaster relief and other non-profit organisations as well.”

PMIEF has three areas where it focuses its efforts:

  • Building a better prepared society for future success
  • Building a better prepared workforce
  • Building a better response in times of need.

Project-centered education

PMIEF works through PMI Chapters to build the skills of people in education. They believe that project management is a key competency for teachers and administrators, and also students. Volunteers get involved in community projects. The belief is that project-centered education results in higher achievement in schools, more pupil engagement and better attendance, and while I have no reason to doubt that, we weren’t pointed in the direction of any independent research to back that claim up. However, we did hear two case studies from PMI Chapters working in education.

PMIEF has developed the PM Toolkit for Youth, which is free to download for non-commercial use, so schools can use it. It is a modular course aimed at teaching basic project management skills to help students organise their school projects and make sound decisions.

During the development of the Toolkit they realised that the students didn’t have the presentation skills required to present back the outcomes of their projects, so they added a  presentation skills module.

Project management as a professional competency

PMIEF also supports the development of project management as a professional competency and career choice. It provides academic scholarships, awards, doctoral research grants and curriculum development grants. In addition, it runs training courses for the unemployed and underemployed.

“Project management is one of the few fields delivering people who can lead work and lead others,” John said.

Project management is results focused and employers want results. Skilling up professionals through training and research improves job prospects and the ability of companies to deliver on their strategic plans.

Dealing with disaster

After a natural or humanitarian disaster, NGO’s arrive on the scene to help get things back on track. Using project management techniques can help them stay efficient and use donor dollars more effectively. This supports the concepts behind PMD Pro, a certification programme aimed at non-profits that was launched last year.

PMIEF also have their training scheme, called Skills For Life which is available in English and Spanish. It’s a short project management course that can be taught in a few hours. John explained that it has been run 150 times in 33 countries, with half the delegates so far being PMI members and half not.

PMIEF’s work with disaster relief organisations also includes training materials, tools, methodologies, training volunteers and staff and providing grants.

“Through the Educational Foundation we’re hoping that the next generation will do a much better job than we’ve been able to do,” John said. I don’t think the first generation of professional project managers did that bad a job, but if those who come after can do better, that has to be a good thing.

You can find out more about PMIEF on their website. In a week or so I’ll tell you about the two case studies where PMIEF is working with PMI Chapters to bring project management education into schools.