Giving Back 101: An Education In Paying It Forward

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Okla­homa is known for many things. It is indeed a diverse and mul­ti-cul­tur­al state. But with­out its peo­ple, it’s just anoth­er place on this vast plan­et. At Unique­la­homa, we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn about all types of peo­ple who pur­sue inter­est­ing and unique endeav­ors. But with­in that mix of engag­ing tal­ent and accom­plish­ment, we often learn of those who give a lit­tle extra to bet­ter their com­mu­ni­ties while improv­ing the lives of oth­ers. Allow me to intro­duce Todd Black­burn of Tul­sa.
Black­burn is the own­er of the tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny Tech­si­co which is head­quar­tered in Tul­sa. The com­pa­ny also has offices in Okla­homa City, Hous­ton, San Diego, Los Ange­les, and Las Vegas. The com­pa­ny focus­es on low volt­age elec­tric such as phones, fiber, and data instal­la­tion, secu­ri­ty and cell phone tow­ers among oth­er aspects of the low volt­age indus­try. The com­pa­ny helps keep us con­nect­ed to each oth­er and the world.
One of the most inter­est­ing aspects of Black­burn was his choice to fol­low the path less influ­enced. Like most who have come of age in the past 30 years, one word seemed to be thrown around more than the rest. It appeared to many that col­lege was the key to suc­cess. But for Black­burn, col­lege did not seem to be his answer. Instead, he opt­ed to enroll in Tul­sa Tech and grad­u­at­ed with Elec­tron­ics Indus­try Cer­tifi­cates. What he gained there would even­tu­al­ly ben­e­fit so many oth­ers in the years to come both in his own busi­ness and future stu­dents at Tul­sa Tech.
“One of the things that have put me where I am today is the lead­er­ship skills I learned while attend­ing Tul­sa Tech,” Black­burn said. A proud alum­nus of Tul­sa Tech, he feels it’s his respon­si­bil­i­ty to give back to those who gave him the foun­da­tion to build a mul­ti-mil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness and a net­work of ser­vices that help keep the busi­ness world mov­ing into the future.
As we sat in the restau­rant enjoy­ing our lunch, I was sur­prised to learn that he didn’t go to a four-year uni­ver­si­ty. Based upon the décor of his office, which is plas­tered with OU Soon­er mem­o­ra­bil­ia, I nat­u­ral­ly assumed OU to be his Alma Mater. I soon learned that he is sim­ply an OU fan, but a true believ­er in Tul­sa Tech and what it can offer those who choose it over a four-year uni­ver­si­ty. Black­burn recent­ly accept­ed a sec­ond offer to serve in the Tul­sa Tech Edu­ca­tion Foun­da­tion. He had served on the foun­da­tion in 2010 when his com­pa­ny was still rather small, but he felt at that time he didn’t have as much to offer. But his desire remained to give back to the school as the years passed on. Fast for­ward eight years, his com­pa­ny has grown expo­nen­tial­ly and he knew the right time had come to get involved again and help those stu­dents who will one day be in the work­force with skills like the ones he learned while attend­ing Tul­sa Tech.
“I feel like I am at a point where I can have some influ­ence and help the school become more than it has been in the past,” Black­burn said. With more time in his per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al sched­ule, he felt that it was the right time. The foun­da­tion focus­es on help­ing those stu­dents who don’t have enough mon­ey to pay for all of their tuition, books, and tools. Upon accep­tance to the foun­da­tion board, Black­burn began revi­tal­iz­ing the con­cept, “the more mon­ey we raise, the more stu­dents we can help.” Since he has been back on the foun­da­tion, he has been involved in the annu­al fundrais­er, ‘Con­cert for a Cause’ which raised over $20,000. Black­burn not only helped in orga­niz­ing the char­i­ty event, but he also donat­ed sig­nif­i­cant­ly to the silent auc­tion as well.
“I feel like I am at a point where I can have some influ­ence and help the school become more than it has been in the past…”
But as a busi­ness­man and poten­tial employ­er for Tul­sa Tech grad­u­ates, Black­burn real­izes the impor­tance of reach­ing out to oth­er com­pa­nies who ben­e­fit from Tul­sa Tech. Up until he accept­ed the invi­ta­tion to join the foun­da­tion, most of the mon­ey that went to help stu­dents came from teacher dona­tions and grants. He has since begun build­ing rela­tion­ships with area com­pa­nies that can become cor­po­rate spon­sors and will like­ly hire Tul­sa Tech grad­u­ates. He explains to them the impor­tance of donat­ing to the foun­da­tion and ulti­mate­ly to the stu­dents, which in turn can ben­e­fit them lat­er when they require qual­i­fied employ­ees.
“If we can go around to each of the busi­ness­es who will poten­tial­ly hire these stu­dents and get a few hun­dred bucks to $1000, we would have a lot more mon­ey to give schol­ar­ships,” Black­burn said. Through his involve­ment in the foun­da­tion, he does more than just help stu­dents. He reminds us the val­ue of any edu­ca­tion regard­less of the name on the build­ing or the num­ber of years it takes to achieve its degrees and cer­tifi­cates. Through his ded­i­ca­tion to help­ing oth­ers, he fur­ther reminds us that by giv­ing a lit­tle of our­selves we will cre­ate a return on an invest­ment that is too high to ever cal­cu­late.
From the Tul­sa Tech Web­site:
The Tul­sa Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter Edu­ca­tion Foun­da­tion was found­ed in 1983 to pro­vide for stu­dents’ needs that could not be fund­ed with pub­lic tax dol­lars. With­out the finan­cial assis­tance of the Foun­da­tion, many stu­dents would not com­plete edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams and acquire the work skills and ethics to be self-sup­port­ing cit­i­zens. 
For more infor­ma­tion on the foun­da­tion, donat­ing or cor­po­rate spon­sor­ships, vis­it ttef.net or send an email to [email protected]

C. L. Har­mon

Lead Author

C.L. Har­mon a jour­nal­ist and author.

He Has worked for sev­er­al news­pa­pers as a reporter and was the man­ag­ing edi­tor for a dai­ly before start­ing his own paper, The Man­n­ford Reporter in Man­n­ford, Okla­homa. 

The Man­n­ford Reporter came with many life lessons and expe­ri­ences that I may share one day. For now my focus and my love is Unique­la­homa!

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