Couple provides $2 million to create two new scholarships

Erie, Pa. -- Known for their commitment to the community and their employees, Joseph and Isabel Prischak have pledged $2 million to create two new scholarships at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Joseph Prischak announced the gift May 28, at a Conneaut Valley High School alumni reunion.

With the addition of the Prischak Family Trustee Scholarship and the Joseph and Isabel Prischak Trustee Scholarship, Penn State Behrend has a total of 35 trustee scholarships.

The Prischak Family Trustee Scholarship, funded with a $1 million gift, is a need-based scholarship designated for Plastek Group employees and their children and grandchildren.

"I have been blessed throughout my life and plastics career, and I want to help create opportunities for fellow Plastek employees and their families. These are the men and women who have helped to make Plastek the world-class manufacturer that it is today," said Prischak, chairman of the board of the Plastek Group. Plastek has manufacturing plants in the United States, Europe and South America and employs more than 2,000 people worldwide.

The Joseph and Isabel Prischak Trustee Scholarship, also funded at $1 million, will give preference to students from Conneaut Valley High School, Joseph Prischak's alma mater, or to students who reside in Crawford County. This is the campus' first such scholarship for this specific demographic and will support academically talented Penn State Behrend students with a demonstrated financial need.

"I developed an interest in toolmaking while taking a machine shop course at Conneaut Valley High School. It is important to me to give back to my alma mater," Prischak continued. "It is my hope that this scholarship will help students of Conneaut Valley High School to continue their educations as they pursue successful futures for themselves and their families."

The Trustee Matching Scholarship program is part of an effort by Penn State to secure private support University-wide for undergraduate scholarships. This scholarship program has a unique matching component to maximize these efforts; the University matches 5 percent of the gift amount annually, in perpetuity, effectively doubling the financial impact of the scholarship. Trustee scholarships are awarded to academically talented students who demonstrate strong financial need.

"Joe and Isabel have been longstanding supporters of Penn State Behrend and we are grateful to them for their generosity. They are living proof that the right combination of education and hard work can produce great results, such as a world-class plastics company," said Donald Birx, chancellor of Penn State Behrend. "Scholarship support is one of the main goals of our current capital campaign, aptly titled For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students."

During the For the Future campaign, Penn State Behrend's goal is to raise $32 million to support its students and has secured $26 million to date. The campus' scholarship goal is $8.5 million; with the Prischaks' gift, $6 million has been raised for scholarships since this campaign began in January 2007.

A member of the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows, Prischak was instrumental in developing Penn State Behrend’s plastics engineering technology (PLET) degree program, which is one of four programs nationwide accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. To date, the campus' PLET program has nearly 800 graduates. Prischak later founded an identical program at the University of Bratislava, Slovak Republic.

With global headquarters in Erie, the Plastek Group is comprised of 10 companies. Plastek's mold-building capabilities include Triangle Tool Co., Penn Erie Manufacturing and Plastek Tooling do Brasil. In total, Plastek has more than 175 engineers and toolmakers constructing new plastic molds and maintaining current molds used in production. The company has more than 375 injection molding and assembly machines throughout its facilities, which use the latest in CNC and robotics technology. Plastek manufactures and assembles plastic packaging for consumer, medical and pharmaceutical products. Notably, Plastek produces more than 80 percent of the plastic deodorant packages used worldwide and has combined capabilities in the United States, Brazil and Europe to produce more than one billion deodorant containers annually.

Prischak co-founded Triangle Tool Co. in 1956 and the Plastek Group in 1971, and assumed sole ownership of both in 1983. He retired as president and CEO of Plastek Group in 2002, remaining as chairman of the board. Currently, the group is managed by four of Prischak's five sons.

Prischak began his career at Erie Resistor Corp. in the plastic molding department before moving to the tool room, where he learned the mold-making trade through his toolmaking apprenticeship.

In 1991, Prischak was honored with the Master Entrepreneur of the Year award, which is jointly sponsored by Inc. Magazine, Merrill Lynch Financial Services and the national accounting and consulting firm of Ernst and Young.

Today, Prischak serves as president and CEO of Africa 6000 International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing clean, fresh water in Africa. Prischak founded the organization in 2006. Since then, Africa 6000 has drilled or participated in drilling and outfitting more than 40 successful water wells in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It is estimated that these wells have in turn saved at least half a million lives, mostly children's. In Africa, three out of five children die before the age of 6 due to waterborne diseases, totaling more than 6,000 children a day — the reason behind the nonprofit's numerical name.

Joseph and Isabel Prischak celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2010. The couple has five sons and 11 grandchildren.


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Last Updated June 08, 2011