Active Voice: Understanding the ACSM Foundation - Making Crucial Contributions to Priority Programs and How You Can Help

By James M. Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM

James M. Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM, is a professor in both the Departments of Kinesiology and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Michigan State University in East Lansing. At MSU, he also directs the Human Energy Research Laboratory and the Center for Physical Activity and Health and is the Research Integrity Officer for the university. He has an extensive and distinguished history of leadership service to ACSM, including his current position as President of the ACSM Foundation. Dr. Pivarnik was President of ACSM in 2009-2010.

In 2012, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provided me another exciting opportunity to serve its membership. Specifically, I was asked to be, and humbly accepted the position as President of the ACSM Foundation.

While most ACSM members know we have a foundation, few know much about how it works. The Foundation acquires, manages, and grows resources necessary for ACSM to fulfill its mission and vision...with special emphasis on supporting research that provides scientific information vital to human health and performance.

In addition to a president, the Foundation has a treasurer and board of directors, and is supported by dedicated ACSM staff members. Board members are chosen not only for their interest in ACSM, but their abilities to network with members and corporate partners.

One of the ACSM Foundation's main objectives is to fund young investigators’ research. This effort began in 1989, with grants being given to five students. This past year, 22 students received awards totaling over $128,000. Over the past 25 years, ACSM’s initial investment has helped propel a number of young scholars to outstanding careers in physical activity research. As Foundation President, this is extremely satisfying to me.

In addition to funding science performed by ACSM members, the Foundation plays a major role in helping obtain and secure the capital to support programmatic needs of the College. Since 2007, ACSM has launched a number of new initiatives such as Exercise is Medicine® and the American Fitness Index™. Additional signature programs are on the way. Corporate funding is crucial for these programs to survive and thrive.

So what are my goals? Very simple, I want the ACSM Foundation to be a strong asset to the mission of the College. The Foundation must be able to deliver whenever we need to support our young members, current programs, and growing list of new initiatives. We are expanding our Foundation Board strategically to best match our leadership strengths with needs of the College. My vision is to solidify our infrastructure and develop a clear, unified strategy to support ACSM's development efforts, whether we are targeting individual members or corporate partners. Sometimes the best opportunities present themselves when you least expect them. Having a unified structure and strategy in place will allow ACSM to expeditiously pursue funding opportunities when they occur..

How can each of us, as members, help support the Foundation? There are several ways. One way is to contribute a gift in response to annual campaigns throughout the year. Such gifts can be unrestricted, or could go specifically toward student research or one of many named endowments. These endowments are typically travel awards to help support a deserving student to attend the ACSM Annual Meeting. Planned giving is an additional way that a member can support the College in the future through assets or estate. More information can be found by clicking: http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/foundation.

Please help us ensure that ACSM continues to be the leader in all things related to science, education, and policy that incorporate the role of physical activity and health. Thanks in advance for your continued support.