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Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund: Supporting Positive Initiatives Worldwide

Generosity can often have positive and far-reaching effects — and this has never been more clearly demonstrated than by the indelible impact the legacy of Jon C. Taenzer, through the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund, is having on communities worldwide.

Established by the IEEE Foundation in 2019 thanks to a generous bequest from the Estate of Jon C. Taenzer – a renowned research engineer, senior scientist, electronics engineering inventor/patent holder, author, IEEE Life Senior Member and IEEE Goldsmith Legacy League member who passed in 2019 – this planned gift has been designated to support engineers in developing countries and fund breakthroughs in aids for the disabled.

Since 2019, the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund has supported a total of eight dynamic initiatives, the most recent of which include the following:

  • IEEE HAC/SIGHT Taenzer Grant Program — This partnership of IEEE’s Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) and Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) will support a three-year granting program dedicated to advancing technologies for the disabled in industrialized and developing countries and to supporting engineers in third-world countries.
  • IEEE Spectrum Fellowship Program – This initiative involves the creation of a three-year IEEE Spectrum Disabled Writer Fellowship program to bring writing from disabled journalists and expert authors into Spectrum and help make Spectrum an authoritative and credible voice in this field.
  • IEEE Smart Village Solar-Powered Milling Program — This project, which involves the installation of a solar-powered milling unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the production of flour, will positively impact lives and livelihoods by providing high-quality, low-cost flour to 500,000 people per month in the country’s Bukavu-Goma region.
  • IEEE Smart Village Containerized Solar Bakery Program – This project, which involves the introduction of solar-powered bakery technology in the Bukavu-Goma region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will provide 500,000 people per month with access to high-quality, low-cost, and nutritionally-supplemented bread products.
  • EPICS in IEEE’s Access and Abilities Competition – In light of the fact that 15% of the world’s population lives with disabilities, this competition challenges university students around the globe to use their engineering skills to help solve accessibility issues within their communities. 

A Bridge to a Better Tomorrow

Leaders of several of the aforementioned initiatives are excited to express their gratitude for the support they have received from the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund and the far-reaching impact it will have:

“Providing financial support to the IEEE Smart Village program is an opportunity to make a difference in a remote community by improving the quality and standard of living through electricity, education, and entrepreneurship, and money donated to IEEE Smart Village through the IEEE Foundation is used to provide seed money to entrepreneurs whose efforts could potentially benefit millions of people,” said John P. Nelson, P.E., President of IEEE Smart Village. As it relates to the new Flour Milling and Solar Bakery programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he added, “support from the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund will be critical in this historic conflict zone, especially as the recent Russian-Ukrainian conflict has made food insecurity an even more urgent struggle than before.”

Susan Hassler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of IEEE Spectrum, agreed that the support from the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund will be transformative.  “Spectrum has always strived to give its readers honest, insightful, and credible assessments of technological developments,” she said.  “With funding from the IEEE Foundation, Spectrum will be able to expand its coverage and analysis of emerging technologies intended to improve the lives of people with disabilities and become a center of excellence for people looking for the latest developments in assistive technology.  Support from the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund allows Spectrum to actively engage with the disabled writer community and shine a spotlight on the issues surrounding assistive technologies,” confirmed Hassler, “and Spectrum is immensely grateful and lucky to have it!”

“Our strong partnership with the IEEE Foundation through the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund will enable IEEE HAC/SIGHT to empower technologists around the globe to advance assistive technologies and build an inclusive future for disabled individuals worldwide,” concurred Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan, Global Chair, IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC).  “Planned Gifts such as the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund empower and nurture technologists and future leaders by providing them with invaluable opportunities to develop their leadership and technical skills, address global humanitarian challenges through technological innovations, and positively impact the global community at large.” 

“The IEEE Foundation is grateful to Jon Taenzer for leaving us such a generous bequest that we are turning into action across so many diverse and impactful initiatives being deployed across the globe,” said Karen Galuchie, IEEE Foundation Executive Director. Learn how you too can leave a bequest to the IEEE Foundation to make your lasting impact at: https://www.ieeefoundation.org/how-to-give/tomorrow/trust-provision.

 IEEE-HKN Epsilon Xi Chapter students members adapt a battery-powered, ride-on toy car for a child with disabilities as part of the 2019 ‘Go Baby Go’ project. ‘Go Baby Go’ is a prime example of the type of projects EPICS in IEEE seeks to fund as part of the Access and Abilities Competition currently underway thanks to the bequest received from the Estate of Jon C. Taenzer.

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