The Albany Area Education Foundation is a Partner Fund of the Initiative Foundation led by an advisory board of local volunteers who have made a commitment to strengthen our communities. Created in 2017, our vision is to expand opportunities for our students by helping to raise funds to fuel school initiatives and programs.

Education foundations are tax-exempt public charities serving thousands of people who share a common interest – improving their schools! We provide the leadership to help people give back to Albany Area Schools with measured impact and great meaning.

As local volunteers, we know our neighbors, share your interests, and are invested in the future of our schools and community. Our partnership with the Initiative Foundation combines local knowledge and leadership with professional expertise and guidance to identify community needs, serve donors, and manage our investments.

By promoting local philanthropy, we strive to strengthen our community by connecting people, resources, and needs. Our endowment fund is a charitable investment account in which the principal contributions are never spent; only the earnings provide a flexible, dependable funding stream to support important projects.

Building stronger schools doesn’t just happen. It requires the efforts of many – each bringing their own unique talents, insights, strengths, abilities and willingness to make a difference. Through our grant awards, we strive to help people do the most good in our community.

Each year, we will invite school staff to apply for funding through our grant process. The Albany Area Education Foundation’s funding priorities are as follows:

  • Create unforgettable learning experiences for students. Offer students rich, challenging, and engaging learning experiences that encourage them to be lifelong learners.
  • Provide our students with world class educational technology.  Teach students how to incorporate technology in their learning, providing opportunities for student collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity.
  • Partner with community members to provide real-life, hands-on learning opportunities that teach vocational and life skills. Provide meaningful opportunities for students to prepare them to be contributing members of society (for example, Work-Based Learning internships, job shadowing, community experts).
Advisory Board Members


  • Bob Gerads
  • Daryn Lecy


  • Sonya Hoffarth


  • Kelly Bierbaum


  • Scott Buntje
  • Shanna Gerads
  • Greg Johnson
  • Jennifer Lecy
  • Steve Stromme
  • Melanie Voss
  • Ben Mergen
  • Amy Silvers

Created in 1986, the Initiative Foundation is powering possible to help Central Minnesota people build and sustain thriving communities. The Foundation serves the 14 counties of Central Minnesota, providing nonprofit grants, business loans, leadership training and an array of donor services. We believe that local people have the greatest sum of initiative, knowledge and relationships to achieve a brighter future.

In partnership with Albany Area Education Foundation, the Initiative Foundation oversees and manages financial contributions for the fund. The Foundation also provides staff support to the advisory board and ensures compliance with legal and professional standards. These services allow volunteer leaders to focus on meeting community needs and enhancing the local quality of life. Because the Initiative Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, contributions to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Mission Statement:
The Albany Area Education Foundation (AAEF) is an independent, non-profit organization devoted to supporting the continued excellence of Albany Area Schools. Partnering with the school district and the community, the AAEF secures private, supplemental funding to support district programs, spur innovation, and expand opportunities for students and staff in the areas of academics, activities, arts, and athletics.