The Alton Educational Foundation (AEF) was founded in 2001 as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization to raise funds for innovative projects that provide enhanced educational opportunities, support academic excellence, and encourage student achievement throughout the Alton School District.
The formation of the Alton Educational Foundation was the inspiration of Joan Sheppard who was serving on the Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation Board and wanted to see a similar Foundation developed to support the Alton School District. Joan; Attorney, Bill Hoagland, who helped draft the AEF’s bylaws; along with then ACUSD #11 Superintendent, Jim Baiter; and other community member volunteers; set into motion the beginning of the Foundation that is in place today. Always an advocate of education, Joan also previously served as an elected member of the Alton School Board for eight years, serving one of those years as School Board President. Joan and her husband, Charles, continue to donate to the AEF at the Emeritus Level each year. The AEF appreciates their passion and dedication to education within the Alton Community!
The Alton Educational Foundation, AEF, Board is currently comprised of eleven local advocates for public education, including business owners, parents, teachers, retired educators, and district representatives. Over the past twenty years, volunteers have launched numerous fundraising efforts, including Redbird Raffles, memorial brick sales, and bench sales.
In 2014, the AEF Board of Directors developed The Guardians of Education (GOE) membership program in the hopes of raising more funds and retaining those funds for annual grants. Local Guardians of Education include businesses and individuals who donate annually. Karen Wilson of Karen Wilson State Farm, was the very first Guardian of Education member and continues to donate each year at the Emeritus Level. Many GOE are past and present employees from the Alton School District. This is the case with Karen as well. She served eight years as an educator and then administrator in the Alton District before she left in 2002 to begin her career with State Farm. The AEF thanks Karen for her on-going support of education and the AEF!
The Guardians of Education program has raised nearly $23,000 or more annually for the past five years through the generosity of businesses and individuals who donate annually. During the 2020-2021 School year, over $9000.00 in grants were funded.