For many seniors, winter at UAHS is a season of panic. In preparing the service elements for their capstone projects, the costs of implementing their plans can be overwhelming. But what many seniors might not know is that there is an often overlooked club that aims to ease the expense— Student Foundation.
The organization, whose parent organization is the Upper Arlington Education Foundation, provides and enables student community service. Senior Catherine Plasket, one of three co-presidents of Student Foundation, said the organization has several areas of activity.
“We have four different committees,” Plasket said. “We have fundraising, advertising, grants, and service. Those all in one way or another overlap each other.”
These committees give Student Foundation a broad variety of functions. Through the service committee, the Foundation engages in its own volunteer activities. According to Leah Miller, the club’s advisor, one of the most productive functions of the organization is the group’s volunteer work at New Life Church in Grandview, OH.
“Once a month the Student Foundation meets at New Life United Methodist Church to help serve breakfast, distribute clothing, and prepare and pack lunches for hundreds of community members,” Miller said. “The students arrive to the church before 7 am, so they are truly a dedicated group. We have partnered with New Life for several years now, helping them help the larger Columbus community.”
However, the Foundation has another duty separate from their service work that plays a very important role beyond their service efforts. The group provides grant money to other service projects, including capstone and student clubs needing funds. Senior Erin Sankey, another of Student Foundation’s co-presidents and one of the heads of the grant board, encourages students to communicate with the Foundation to ease the pain of fundraising.
“If any student wants to start a service project and they’re having trouble raising funds, they should apply for a grant or talk to anyone on Foundation,” Sankey said.
The application process for students interested in receiving a grant is relatively straightforward. Any student can get a request form from the district website. The form asks questions related to how the grant will benefit the project, other fundraising methods the requestor has used, and how the project will impact the community in the future. Student Foundation then reviews the completed forms as a group, and may ask the applicant to visit the board to argue in favor of their grant if the board is undecided.
“[The grant process is] friendly,” Sankey said. “It’s not something to be intimidated by.”
In spite of the value that Student Foundation offers, Plasket said they receive very little attention from the student body.
“We used to say in the past that it was kind of a secret society,” Plasket said.
Part of the reason for this may be the club’s atypical initiation method. Sipp said that new members are nominated to join by current members, rather than being open for anyone to join.
“At the end of my freshman year Griffith Brown came up to me and said, ‘I’m part of Student Foundation, I think you and Peter (one of my other friends) should become a part of it,” Sipp said. “It’s basically [done] by upperclassmen finding underclassmen.”
However, in the last year, Student Foundation has made increased efforts to get the word out about the services they offer, including making announcements on Kickin it Live. With these steps, Plasket believes Student Foundation is on track to becoming more well known.
“Now, at least this year, there’s a lot more kids in Student Foundation. With the morning announcements this year, I think that [we’re] becoming more known- but … there are probably more ways we can try to incorporate ourselves into everyone who isn’t necessarily on Student Foundation.”
Furthermore, the grant-providing function of Student Foundation has grown in recent years. Sankey believes this is due in part to the increasing volume of grants the Foundation receives.
“In the past, we were more service-oriented and in previous years did more service [ourselves],” Sankey said. “We’ve shifted our focus as the number of grant requests have increased.”
As the organization continues to grow, it aims to become a bigger part of student activities at UAHS.
“We really want to help everyone in the high school out,” Plasket said. “[We want people to know that] we’re approachable, that we’re really accommodating, and you’re welcome to come to us at any time.