MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Albert "Bert" Evans, chair of Evans Delivery Company Inc. in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, has made a commitment of $100,000 to establish the Bert and Josette Evans Internship Fund to support students in the applied behavior analysis (ABA) program at Penn State Harrisburg.
A longtime supporter of Penn State Schuylkill through funding scholarships and providing students with internships and full-time employment at the trucking company, Evans is also a financial partner in Gym-Jam Therapeutics, an autism therapy company in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. It is this connection that led Evans to seek out Jonathan Ivy, professor-in-charge of the master’s program in applied behavior analysis in the college’s School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, to discuss how the two might work together and how he could support students studying behavior health with an emphasis on autism therapy.
“I determined that the Penn State location with the resources to assist us was Penn State Harrisburg,” Evans said. “It is our goal to have students from the campus participate in our pipeline to grow autism therapists and expand our services to help those in need throughout the state.”
Based upon those conversations, the internship fund named for Evans and his wife, Josette, was established. The funding provided by the Evanses was 1:1 matched by the University as part of the now-concluded Economic Development Incentive Matching Program. Once the endowment is fully funded, it will support multiple student internships annually. Evans said that it is his intent to continue the program in perpetuity.
“Bert recognized that Penn State Harrisburg offers a unique training experience for graduate students, and that our alumni are viewed in the top echelon of the profession,” Ivy said. “This fund was designed to strengthen our relationship with Gym-Jam Therapeutics and to support the good work our students are doing — and to provide some opportunities they might not otherwise have. We are pleased to be able to support students through this generous funding.”
Ivy said that this financial support could help cover some of the costs that students incur when they take on meaningful and impactful internships that are unpaid, “giving them the freedom to pursue high-end experiences.”
Evans said his goal to is to grow Gym-Jam to reach underserved areas throughout the commonwealth and the best way to expand services to clients in these areas is with a pipeline of soon-to-be therapists. This expansion would, in turn, provide more internship opportunities and hands-on training experiences for students.
The ABA program, which recently celebrated its 20th year, is designed to give students the skills necessary to be a highly effective behavior analyst: in-depth understanding of applied behavioral technology, experimental analysis, methodology, behavioral philosophy and ethical, professional behavior. The program prepares graduates to address some of the most critical issues and develop comprehensive solutions to socially important problems related to human behavior.
This fits with Evans’ vision for the type of student he sees benefiting from the new fund, he said.
“[It is intended for] a student who quickly recognizes this [profession] is a calling,” he said. “They will understand how important they are in a child’s life and future.”
Ivy said that the funds will create life-changing opportunities for students’ professional growth and development.
“These funds are going to allow students to focus on the development of professional skills and career readiness, allowing them to graduate with even more competencies so that they can immediately make an impact on the communities they work within and the clients they serve," he explained.
Evans is a graduate of the Lawrenceville School and Columbia University, with a degree in civil engineering. Along with serving as chairman of Evans Delivery Company, he is also chairman of DM Transportation Management Services Inc. and West Motor Freight of Pennsylvania, both in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Josette graduated from Stuart Hall School in Stanton, Virginia, and she graduated from The Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for her father at Thermo Dynamics, a cast iron boiler manufacturer located in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, as an administrative assistant to the president before she and Bert started a family.
With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help us to serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit raise.psu.edu.