The Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF) has welcomed three new student representatives to its board of directors.
Kendal Setts is representing Coon Rapids High School (CRHS), Nick Setter is representing Andover High School and Itopa Obami is representing Anoka High School.
They join McKinley Moore representing Champlin Park High School (CPHS) and Lisa Levior representing Blaine High School (BHS), who joined the board last year.
AHEF is a 501(c)3 non-profit that seeks to enrich students’ education opportunities.
With the community’s support, since 1994, AHEF has provided nearly $2 million to support Anoka-Hennepin students.
Students are recommended to AHEF by National Honor Society advisers or counseling staff.
The students make a multi-year commitment and serve as full-fledged directors with the same voting rights as adult board members.
A former student representative, CPHS graduate Ahmad Samadi, is now a community representative on the board.
Georgie Schulte, AHEF board chairperson, said it’s important to have student representatives because some of the board members have not had children in the school system for many years.
“It introduces the board to new ideas and different approaches,” she said.
“Students will comment if they have experienced a similar situation and how they felt about it.
“At the last meeting, we were discussing grants. The students were right in the middle of our discussions. It made me personally relook at some of the grants.
“One of our students came to his first board meeting and thanked us for a grant we funded. He saw what impact that had in his school and how it made a difference to the affected students.”
Because students are AHEF’s primary client, Tess DeGeest, AHEF executive director, said she likes having students on the board to help shape the organization’s work and to help board members understand what is happening in their schools.
“They remind us why we are doing this important work to help support them and our schools,” DeGeest said.
Schulte hopes that through the experience students learn how a board is run, a commitment to volunteering and that serving on a board is work but it can be rewarding, she said.
“We have a great student board this year — some new, some old,” Schulte said. “It is a great motivator for me as a board member.”