Montevallo High School, Alabama Possible to Host College Signing Day Celebration

April 30th, 2015

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On Thursday, April 30 at 8:30 a.m., the senior class of Montevallo High School (980 Oak Street) will announce what colleges and universities they will attend.

During the ceremony, school officials will recognize 42 seniors who will attend 18 different colleges and one student who is joining the United States Marine Corps. The senior class, who will wear t-shirts from their college of choice, will be recognized during a school assembly attended by their families, Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost and representatives from Alabama Possible, the University of Montevallo and Jefferson State Community College.

“These students committed to attend college so that they can compete for today’s high wage, high skill jobs,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible.  “Our state is no stranger to recognizing the accomplishments of talented athletes. With College Signing Day, we aim to show that academic excellence is just as worthy of celebrating.”

Many of the graduating seniors are participants in Alabama Possible’s Blueprints College Access Initiative. Blueprints connects high school students and their families with helpful resources and relationships so they are equipped to graduate from high school college and career-ready.

Currently, only 33 percent of Alabama’s working-age adults have a two- or four-year degree, but by 2020 a majority of Alabama jobs will require a postsecondary degree or certificate.

As part of this process, the Blueprints initiative teams high school students up with college student mentors to navigate the college admissions process and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, which is required to pursue student loans, grants and other scholarship opportunities.

 

Central Visits Shelton State and Alabama

April 8th, 2015

What are some hacks to get adjusted to college-life easily? 

What international career prospects do Alabama students have?

What do you wish you had known in high school about college?

These are just some of the questions that Blueprints students from Central High School in Tuscaloosa asked during our recent field trip to Shelton State Community College and the University of Alabama.

Central High School is within walking distance of UA’s campus, but for many students our Blueprint’s field trip was an opportunity to interact and engage with the University of Alabama on a whole new level.

Our Central students spent their time at the University of Alabama with a group of current Honors students. During their visit, our Blueprints students seized this opportunity to find out how college aligns to their diverse interests, and in turn, they saw college was for them.

Ajowa, a 9th grader remarked that this college visit was different than anything the students had experienced “because last time we didn’t get to go inside or walk around UA, this time we went inside different parts of UA and walked around campus and saw different folks.” Students at Central have seen the campus, but it was many of their first times to see hidden gems of the University, like the Alabama Natural History Museum housed on the University’s campus.

On this trip, our Central students not only toured college campuses, but they also formed relationships. JaKayla, another Central 9th grader, said her “favorite part was when the tour guide [Robert] called me Ms. Leader. This trip made me think harder about what I want to do in college. I learned that you have to have a set plan for college, after college, and life.” For JaKayla, building a relationship over the course of the day with Robert, a 4th year student who is the Executive Director of Honors Educational Outreach, was a way for college to become more exciting and more personal.

Below are a some of photos from our visit. Thank you to Shelton State and the Honors College at the University of Alabama for making this possible.

 

Central High School students at the University of Alabama’s Alabama Natural History Museum with a dinosaur found in Alabama.

Central High School students at the University of Alabama’s Alabama Natural History Museum with a dinosaur found in Alabama.

 

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JaKayla, Central 9th grader, with Robert Pendley, University of Alabama Honors College Executive Director of Educational Outreach

 

Central High School students learning about the SOAR Institute, which provides free tutoring and academic services at Shelton State Community College.

Central High School students learning about the SOAR Institute, which provides free tutoring and academic services at Shelton State Community College.

 

Press Release: New citywide partnership aims to increase the number of Birmingham students enrolled, graduating from college

February 26th, 2015

Alabama Possible, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, and others join national network to increase post-high school attainment

For Immediate Release:                  
February 26, 2015

Contact: Adam Muhlendorf, Longleaf Strategies
adam@longleafstrategies.com; (334) 625-0175

Birmingham, Ala. – A new partnership seeking to increase the number of Birmingham City School graduates enrolling in and graduating from the area’s two- and four-year postsecondary institutions was today named one of twenty cities from across the country to receive national support.

Alabama Possible, a statewide anti-poverty nonprofit organization, leads the partnership that includes, among others, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Birmingham City Schools, the Birmingham Education Foundation, Jefferson State Community College, Lawson State Community College, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The partnership’s long-term goals include enrolling 75 percent of Birmingham City School graduates in postsecondary education immediately following high school and for 65 percent of those students to complete a degree or earn a credential within six years of their initial enrollment.

A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education found that the college achievement gap is growing between non-poverty and low-income students. The study found that while more low-income students are enrolling in a postsecondary program, non-poverty students are eight times more likely than individuals from low-income families to obtain a degree by age 24.

The Birmingham partnership will provide low-income and first-generation college students with a network of resources and relationships that will equip them to overcome the economic and social barriers that prevent many students from starting and finishing college.

“Low-income students, like those who graduate from Birmingham City Schools, are among the least likely to attain the thing most likely to lift them out of poverty: a college degree or credential,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible. “Our partnership’s goals include aligning support services to overcome the economic, social and psychological barriers for low-income and first-generation students to build a culture of college access and success.”

“Through our involvement with workforce development we hear regularly from employers that it is a struggle to find talent for jobs ranging from production workers to operational and business managers,” said James McCrary, vice president of Programs at the Community Foundation. “There are good jobs out there and we believe this program will help to better prepare our students for those jobs, increase their marketability and improve their earning potential. Having access to these resources will substantially impact the future of these students.”

“The pathway to a high-quality credential is not an easy one,” said Dr. Perry Ward, president of Lawson State Community College. “In preparing tomorrow’s workforce, we realize that there are sometimes substantial obstacles between student enrollment and degree completion. It becomes imperative that we use creative measures, form strong partnerships and identify specific needs to better service our students and ensure their success in the classroom and as productive citizens in society.”

The Birmingham partnership is one of two cities in Alabama that were tapped to join the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation’s community-based attainment network. The partnership in Birmingham and a second group in Mobile, led by the Mobile Area Education Foundation, were among the 20 cities named by Lumina Foundation today, bringing the total number of cities involved in Lumina Foundation’s network to 75.

Lumina Foundation’s work is designed to help communities and regions dramatically increase the number of local residents with postsecondary credentials. Lumina’s focus on community-based attainment began because of the Foundation’s recognition that community-based networks are well-suited to play a role in institutional planning and can provide the implementation and coordination that is necessary to create impact at state and federal levels in order to improve the nation’s higher education system so that it better serves students.

“Two-thirds of Americans live in or near cities. Our nation cannot meet its growing demand for citizens who have earned a postsecondary credential without meaningful community-based efforts that are tightly focused on increasing educational attainment,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “We are very pleased with the way this work has unfolded. With 75 communities across the nation working to align the work of business, civic and education efforts in their local communities, greater coordination will occur, resulting in tangible benefits for students of all ages. These students in turn will become graduates who form the backbone of the future economic, social and cultural success of those communities.”

Birmingham and the other communities will work closely with Lumina and other national thought leaders to develop a customized action plan focused on reaching attainment goals to increase the percentage of high-quality credentials held by community residents. The collaborative effort connects participating cities with significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding, and the ability to customize attainment plans that will best suit each community’s needs and the well-being of its residents. Local leaders heading up this work represent a range of sectors from higher education, to K-12, employers, human services, religious and a variety of other community-based organizations.

The overall effort connects to Goal 2025, Lumina’s national goal to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Progress toward the goal will be measured by credentials earned after high school, including certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees held by local residents. The cities selected will work with Lumina through 2016 to expand and deepen the work they have demonstrated in advancing postsecondary attainment agendas.

The third and final cohort of communities include: Atlanta, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; Boise, Idaho; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Durham, N.C.; Fresno, Calif.; Miami, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; Monterey Bay, Calif.; Racine, Wis.; Rockford, Ill.; Shasta County, Calif.; Southern Indiana; Springfield, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Tampa, Fla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Twin Cities, Minn.; Tyler, Texas.

To view a complete list of cities participating in this work, national thought leaders assisting these cities, and to learn more about this work please click here.

About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information, log on to: www.luminafoundation.org

Alabama Possible is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing poverty and its root cause across Alabama. AP educates Alabamians about poverty, collaborates with colleges and faith-based institutions on poverty-reduction activities and advocates for fact-based policy decisions. AP was founded in 1993 and is based in Birmingham, AL. For more information visit www.alabamapossible.org.

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