Skip to Main Content

Happy New Year from the Piston Foundation

It’s time for champagne, Auld Lang Syne, reflections, and resolutions. As the Piston Foundation team prepares for the tried-and-true rituals associated with a new year, we want to share our look in the rearview mirror before we turn our sights on the road ahead.

By Jeff Mason

January 1, 2022

The Piston Foundation Mission Book is lying on a mechanics bench

Piston Foundation Took Care of Business in 2021

We Surpassed our Fundraising Goal

The details of setting up IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit status are not glamorous but necessary to fulfill our mission of supporting skilled trade education. With the ability to accept tax-deductible donations as a public charity, we can initiate campaigns to solicit funds directly from the general car community and automotive industry as well as begin prospecting for federal, state, and private educational grants. In fact, the last quarter of 2021 proved to be a very successful fundraising season; we’re proud to report that we made our goal of $250,000!

Thank you to our 78 individual and foundation donors who helped us raise a total of $283,780 in 2021 to fund our skilled-trade education scholarship and apprenticeship programs.

We’re Building a Skilled and Dedicated Team

We also assembled an experienced management and advisory team this year, consisting of nine men and women with the skill sets needed to support the Foundation’s short and long-term goals. There is a lot to do when setting up the infrastructure that will support our mission, such as conceiving and developing our unique donor classes. Much of our plans for using those funds are pushing into new territory and there we’re both creating new models as well as studying and implementing best practices. It’s vital we have people with experience to translate our visions into practical education.

We’re Engaging the Car Community

We have described the Piston Foundation’s fundraising strategy as innovative. Lately, we’ve been showing the world the first glimpses of what we mean by that.

Founders Club

Of course, we’re building relationships with individuals and organizations that want to help us lay the groundwork for what will come. That is a practice most fundraisers will agree is important. Noted automotive artist Chuck Queener was commissioned to thank and commemorate the substantial gifts of our dedicated and committed founders. The Founders Club has 28 members to date and we’ll continue to memorialize the involvement of men and women who see the importance of introducing a new generation to the rewarding careers available by learning the crafts associated with automotive restoration. A new poster will be commissioned each year, featuring images that tell our story through the talented hands of automotive artists.

Frank Buonanno Scholarship Fund

We launched a legacy campaign called the Frank Buonanno Scholarship Fund (FBSF), which illustrates our ability to unite the car community around the stories that bring us together. Frank’s contributions to car culture are significant and those who support his fund will be giving students the opportunities he enjoyed: to create a successful future that, in turn, inspires the next generation.

Collector Cars and Parts Donation Program

The introduction of our Collector Cars and Parts Donation Program is another good example of where we’re heading with new fundraising ideas: we took a piece of automotive history (a Jag bonnet) and converted it into two scholarships! This was more than a simple auction as both bidders and the general public learned more about Joel Finn, who owned the bonnet. Stay tuned for the next chapter of this story: we’ll be talking with the new owner soon!

If you own significant automotive assets that can be auctioned with proceeds benefiting the Piston Foundation, we want to hear from you!

The Foundation Is Eager to Start 2022

Piston Fund Scholarships Will Launch

It’s been a lot of fun to plan and prep as well as see our ideas flourish but the new year will be about changing the lives of students and apprentices. We’ll begin awarding Piston Fund scholarships in July 2022. Through the spring, we’ll be developing our application process, including selection criteria, in order to identify the most talented candidates using a fair and unbiased system.

The Piston Academy Will Take Important Steps

The development phase of the Piston Academy will launch in 2022 as we begin working with a select number of restoration shops and apprentices to test our program. Later in the year, with the necessary funding, we will begin an Academy pilot program, working with an expanded group of shops across the country. These are the first steps toward realizing an earn-as-you-learn auto restoration apprenticeship program in the U.S.

Our Team and Leadership Will Grow

We anticipate the need to grow Piston personnel resources in 2022 by establishing a small core of full-time staff. We will also identify and publicly welcome a highly recognizable chairperson who will lead and support our fundraising goals.

Happy New Year from the Piston Foundation

We’re fond of 2021 because the long days (and many nights) of work brought our team together in a way that only hard work can. There were disagreements as we fought for ideas that we loved, ah-hA! moments as we saw that we could be more than the sum of our parts, and we had fun talking about cars both among ourselves and with the new friends who heard about our mission and want to be part of it.

We expect 2022 to be a happy new year indeed. We wish you the same!

Support skilled trade education for future auto restoration technicians.


Sign up for our monthly email with stories, updates, and volunteer opportunities.