OPERF | Orthotic and Prosthetic Education and Research Foundation


The Orthotic and Prosthetic Education and Research Foundation (OPERF) was established to raise the standards of education and research in the O&P profession. OPERF awards grants, fellowships, and travel stipends to promote research in the profession with the goal of providing the best possible care to patients in need of O&P services. The foundation also assists students and faculty in O&P education programs by annually offering scholarships to those pursuing careers as professionals, faculty, or researchers in O&P. The availability of awards each year depends on donations made to OPERF by professional groups, educational institutions, organizations, and individuals. To help support the OPERF Education Awards Program, OPERF and the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy) have collaborated to challenge students at O&P schools to help raise the funds to sustain annual OPERF education awards.

The OPERF Student Challenge is an opportunity for students to contribute to their profession's educational growth through collaborative, creative, and organized fundraising activities. The goal of the student challenge is for students across all O&P schools to collectively raise between $5,000 and $10,000 annually to support OPERF education awards.

The objective for each school is to raise awareness of the need for research support within our profession while learning fundraising skills. As an incentive, the school that raises the most funds between February 1 and January 31 of the following calendar year will be recognized by OPERF at the Academy Annual Meeting. The OPERF chairperson will acknowledge the accomplishments of the most successful schools and present the "OPERF Student Challenge Award" to the winning school. All students and faculty at CAAHEP-accredited O&P programs are eligible to apply for OPERF education awards. To facilitate success of the challenge, the Academy has offered the assistance of the Student/Resident Committee and will match any OPERF challenge donations up to $500 per school.

O&P education programs will be competing for:

  • School pride
  • School exposure
  • Future of the profession
  • Philanthropic ideals

Additional benefits to students and faculty include:

  • Involvement in O&P professional activities
  • Opportunity for leadership development
  • Developing relationships with O&P colleagues
  • Enhancing the quality of student resumes

Fundraising activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Hosting a career day involving local O&P businesses
  • Hosting an Academy one-day seminar
  • Partnering with local Academy chapters to create continuing education opportunities
  • Sponsoring a raffle
  • Hosting a run or ride event
  • Hosting community event

OPERF will assign a representative from the OPERF board of directors, education committee, or advisory board to serve as a liaison to each school. Schools will be asked to appoint a faculty representative (educator or other faculty member) to serve as a contact to OPERF and to help organize that school's challenge team. The faculty representative will be responsible for introducing the challenge to students who will then develop an organizational plan that meets the needs of their particular institution.

Topics for the student teams to consider should include:

  • 100 percent student involvement
  • Organizational structure of the fundraising committees
  • Identification of appropriate fundraising events
  • Developing fundraising events calendar
  • Event organization within the community
  • Financial planning for profitable fundraising events

Faculty and representatives from each school will play an important role supporting students by promoting the greater purpose of the Student Challenge, which is to have students assume a leadership role in professional activities that advance the O&P profession. Students will be tasked with organizing and implementing any fundraising activities within their schools and communities.

Keys to success of the OPERF Student Challenge:

  1. Understanding the value of OPERF
  2. Enthusiastic and motivated students
  3. Faculty involvement with time and fundraising ideas to guide students
  4. Strong institutional support, e.g., resources such as copying, mailing, etc.

OPERF will provide guidance to assist with the development of each school's Challenge program and advice in logistical planning. The mechanism for collecting funds at the school level and transferring these funds to OPERF can be planned with OPERF but is ultimately the responsibility of the school.

Task Force:
Scott Cummings, PT, CPO, FAAOP—chair
Brian Hafner, PhD
Bob Gailey, PhD, PT
Susan Kapp, CPO, LPO, FAAOP
DeAnna Chapman, CPO, LPO, FAAOP