Xcel Energy: Three Decades of Professional & Educational Partnership

student wearing Xcel Energy helmet at tour

Xcel Energy has been a wonderful BestPrep partner for more than 30 years. Early on, the company was active in BestPrep’s programs, helping to prepare students with business, career, and financial literacy skills that inspire success in work and life. The company shares BestPrep’s values of closing the opportunity gap and presenting students to various career paths, making an incredible impact on Minnesota students. The company is well known for supporting the community, taking it upon themselves to make a positive influence by being a good neighbor, advocate, and environmental steward.

Xcel has participated in nearly all of BestPrep’s programs: eMentors, Classroom Plus, Minnesota Business Venture, and the Technology Integration Workshop. In fact, volunteers have participated more than 600 times over the last ten years.

One of BestPrep’s longest-standing programs, eMentors, is an email mentoring program that offers high school students the opportunity to develop a relationship with a mentor in a professional field. Xcel Energy has volunteered with students through eMentors for ten years, focusing on students in and outside of the Twin Cities. Through the program, Xcel Energy volunteers engage with students and discuss topics including college and career experience, career exploration, professionalism, networking, and communications skills.

Xcel Energy volunteer gives tour to students on Career Day

Additionally, the company has volunteered with BestPrep’s Classroom Plus program as guest speakers, mock interviewers, and office tour guides. One of the most valuable opportunities Xcel provides to students is a Career Day, where employees speak to students about careers in energy, including public policy, information technology, human resources, electricity, and advertising. BestPrep’s CEO, Bob Kaitz, explained “Xcel is unique and gives a different perspective. It’s good to have students know the options that are out there. They’ve been an exemplary partner.”

Xcel Energy employees also volunteer at BestPrep’s summer business camp, Minnesota Business Venture. The company has volunteered as Resident Business Leaders that guide students into creating business plans and Business Plan Judges, who listen to the students’ business plan presentations at the end of the week.

Chris Clark and Dave Harkness of Xcel Energy accept Humanitarian Award

Xcel Energy has also provided support as participants and sponsors at BestPrep’s three events. In 2001, former CEO Jim Howard keynoted at the Annual Luncheon, and another former CEO, Dick Kelly, participated in an onstage panel at the Educational Forum in 2009. In 2017, CEO Ben Fowke was the keynote speaker at BestPrep’s Annual Luncheon. The company was recognized in 2016 as the Birdies for BestPrep Humanitarian Award winner for its long-term and ongoing support. Xcel Energy has provided continual board leadership for more than 20 years, with two individuals, Mark Fritsch (2003-2005) and Dave Harkness (2017-2019), serving as board chairs.

Hats off to our featured partner Xcel Energy for showing continued commitment to educating and preparing Minnesota youth for a better future!

Students from Brainerd High School with Xcel Energy mentors at an
eMentors Meet and Greet