By LETICIA FEHLING
The Aldine Education Foundation (AEF) hosted a Founders Breakfast November 8 at the Hyatt North Houston to introduce the newly formed group to the business community.
AEF Board Co-Presidents Seth Sharr, an independent philanthropy professional, and Terry Williams, regional vice president of operations for H-E-B, welcomed more than 80 guests from area business and education sectors. Williams and Sharr also spoke on the need for community involvement in education.
“The purpose of the Aldine Education Foundation is to unite community leaders and district administrators and advance educational opportunities for students,” said Williams, a graduate of Aldine ISD. “Through innovative teaching grants and college scholarships, the Foundation seeks to promote academic achievement at all levels.
“This fall, we will award our first grants for teachers to pursue creative classroom programs that would not exist without supplemental funding.”
Sharr detailed how both the Aldine Education Foundation and the Aldine Scholarship Foundation joined forces to provide a path to higher education.
“Through the Scholarship Foundation, students receive support to attend any of six Lone Star College campuses,” explained Sharr. “Students may also apply for general scholarships at the school of their choosing with funds from the broader Education Foundation. We have a great opportunity to make higher education more accessible to students.”
Sharr and Williams recognized current donors:
East Aldine District
BOSC Bond Underwriters
Beasley Tire Service
American Alloy Steel, Inc.
Thompson & Horton, LLP
Andrews Kurth, LLP
Omron Oilfield & Marine
Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP
Precept Wealth Management
Dr. Wanda Bamberg
Bracewell & Guiliani
John and Kathryn Amshoff
Dr. Archie Blanson
Right before the breakfast, Bracewell & Guiliani donated at the Bronze Level. Williams took a moment to highlight the East Aldine Management District and H-E-B for contributing at the $25,000 Diamond Partner Level and $10,000 at the Platinum Partner, respectively.
“Without all of your gifts, we would not be able to fulfill this important mission,” expressed Williams.
Dr. Benny Lambert, vice president of student services at Lone Star College-North Harris, served as the keynote speaker. Lambert discussed the importance of community involvement in education.
Several faculty, alumni and AISD administrators shared Aldine ISD’s story and discussed the importance of community involvement. Samantha Tate, music teacher at Kujawa Elementary School, and Evelyn Clayton, Rodeo Institute for Teacher Excellence (RITE) Trainer at Conley Elementary School, both related how grants have provided students with a variety of experiences and opportunities at the classroom and campus levels.
Guests also heard from several AISD graduates who shared their stories about how grants and scholarships gave them the opportunity to attend college.
“Money really is a factor for students in Aldine ISD in determining whether they will attend college or attend the college of their choice,” said Dimitri Mayes, a sophomore at Rice University studying civil engineering. “Without the help of scholarships, I don’t know how I could have attended the college of my choice. I am really, really grateful. Every amount received whether small or large is helpful.
“I am so happy to hear about the Aldine Education Foundation. It is great to know that this organization will help other students in the district. We are the future and it is nice to know people are investing in us.”
Leslie Marín, who is currently attending Lone Star-North Harris, shared her overwhelming gratitude on receiving a scholarship that helped her enroll to attend college. Marín’s story and genuine appreciation brought many in the room to tears.
“I had been applying and applying for one scholarship and another without obtaining one,” said Marín. “I was so worried about whether or not I would be able to attend college. Then I received a SHABE (Suburban Houston Association for Bilingual Education) scholarship. I remember crying and I still cry to this day. You have no idea how much this helped me to get started on my dream to pursue a college education and become a teacher.”
University of Houston business major Lupe Salas also shared his gratitude on receiving scholarships.
“I am so grateful to those who provided me with scholarships to help me earn my college education,” shared Salas.
After hearing from the students and teachers, a seven-minute video about Aldine ISD played for the audience. The video elaborated the district’s demographics, programs and services as well as the financial challenges with decreased state revenue. Following the video presentation, Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg shared a few words and encouraged community members to help support Aldine ISD students.
“Our staff members work very hard to meet the needs of our students,” stated Bamberg. “But with budget cuts it is becoming increasingly more difficult. We have had to cut or reduce a number of programs and services due to less revenue. With your help, you can help provide opportunities for our students in the classroom and give them the chance to pursue a college degree. I sincerely hope you will be an Aldine Education Foundation donor.”
Williams encouraged attendees to make a contribution to the Aldine Education Foundation.
“We hope to create more stories like the ones you heard today from students and teachers,” said Williams. “By helping students and teachers you are supporting economic growth. By funding innovative classroom projects, giving students opportunities to continue their education you are helping expand our trained workforce.”
Sharr again thanked all the donors and announced that all founding sponsors at the Platinum and Diamond levels will be recognized at the Aldine Administration Building by having a plaque hang prominently at the front entrance of the building.
“We are excited to embark on this journey together, and we ask for your continued support,” concluded Sharr.
A special thanks goes out to Ben Wilson, AISD superintendent of community and governmental relations; Dr. Archie Blanson, AISD Deputy Superintendent; Chris Labod, AISD administrative assistant of public information, as well as Dr. Milli Christner and Laurie Cromwell of Foundation Innovation for contributing to the success of the Aldine Education Foundation.
For more information on how to donate, visit www.AldineEducationFoundation.org or call (281) 985-6078.