Ahmad Hilal Abid, founder of House of Wisdom at Edmonds College, is an Emerging Leader finalist. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Ahmad Hilal Abid, founder of House of Wisdom at Edmonds College, is an Emerging Leader finalist. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Ahmad Hilal Abid: Offering students support and mentoring

The founder of The House of Wisdom at Edmonds College hopes to bridge the gap in education inequity.

This is one of 12 finalists for The Herald Business Journal’s annual Emerging Leaders awards for 2024. The winner will be named at an event on April 17.

Ahmad Hilal Abid, 23

Founder, The House of Wisdom

When Ahmad Hilal Abid learned fellow students at Edmonds College were struggling, he borrowed $300 from his dad to buy chairs and started a group to help them.

He called it The House of Wisdom. Named after the famous Baghdad library founded in the 8th century, the nonprofit is dedicated to “supporting immigrants, refugees and international students academically and socially in their transition to America,” Abid said.

Abid began by helping about 20 students with math and English in his parents’ garage.

“What began as small initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic has grown into a thriving hub that serves over 150 students from diverse backgrounds, including Latino, African American, Ukrainian, Asian and more,” Abid said.

More than 50 volunteers support the nonprofit, which offers free tutoring services, employment assistance and community events.

“Our mission is to bridge the gap in education inequity and provide a welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their cultural or ethnic background,” Abid said. “I believe that by working together and embracing our differences, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society for all.”

The House of Wisdom is now located at Edmonds College.

It took several attempts for The House of Wisdom to achieve nonprofit status.

How do you organize a board of directors? What does grant writing mean? How do you solicit donations? Those were some of the questions Abid had to answer before his application could be considered.

The fourth time was a charm.

“I didn’t give up,” Abid said. His determination didn’t go unnoticed. “Ahmad is a tenacious community leader,” a nominator wrote.

In 2021, Abid received the Governor’s Student Civic Leadership Award. Two years later, the Washington State Senate passed a bipartisan resolution honoring him for founding The House of Wisdom.

“In a few short years, Abid has transformed from a new immigrant in an unfamiliar country to a cornerstone of Lynnwood’s growing Afghan immigrant and refugee community,” the resolution said.

Abid’s ‘commitment to helping others is truly inspirational,” Edmonds College President Amit Singh said last year. “It is Ahmad’s dream that by giving back to his community and bringing people together, he will encourage greater understanding of our differences to help create a culture of equity and belonging.” .

Abid emigrated from Afghanistan to the United States when he was 17 years old.

“As an immigrant who escaped war, compassion, empathy and respect are embodied in my soul and character,” he said. “My life goal is to serve my diverse communities throughout Snohomish County and be a positive change maker.”

Abid is currently studying political science at the University of Washington. He plans to attend law school.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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