Posts Tagged ‘service-learning’

Woodlawn Workshop Connects Students with Financial Aid for College

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

WHAT:           Financial Aid/FAFSA Help Night

WHEN:           Tuesday, February 28, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:       Woodlawn United Methodist Church, 139 54th St N, Birmingham, AL 35212

BIRMINGHAM – Woodlawn High School students and their families will get hands-on help completing the  Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on Tuesday, February 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Woodlawn United Methodist Church.

“The process of applying for and paying for college can seem complicated.  This FAFSA completion event will help students and their family access federal and most state financial support, including grants, scholarships, the lowest-cost student loans and work-study opportunities.  We want to turn Woodlawn students’ college dreams into reality,” said Kristina Scott, director of the Blueprints College Access Initiative.

The Woodlawn FAFSA Help Night is a free program to connect high school seniors and their families complete the FAFSA with expert advice from volunteer financial aid counselors from Birmingham-area postsecondary institutions, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, and Virginia College.

The FAFSA Help Night is co-sponsored by the Woodlawn High School Alumni Coalition, the Blueprints College Access Initiative, and Woodlawn United Methodist Church.

About the Blueprints College Access Initiative:

The Blueprints College Access Initiative equips 21st-century high school students to graduate from high school college- and career-ready by building partnerships with area higher education institutions and community organizations.  Blueprints builds a college-going culture by demystifying the college-going process and connects high school students with an information-rich network of support student coaches and adults who can help them navigate the admissions process.

Blueprints is an initiative of the Alabama Poverty Project.  Alabama has the third-highest poverty rate in the country, and educational attainment and income are closely related.  According to the Census Bureau, college graduates’ median income is $46,931, while the median for workers with a high school diploma is just $27,381.

For more information, visit


Blueprints Highlighted in the National College Access Network Best Practices Gallery

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Hannah, Kristina and Nicole at the Blueprints table in NCAN’s Best Practices Gallery


Here’s a guest post from Blueprints founder Nicole Bohannon:

Earlier this month, Kristina, Hannah, and I had the opportunity to attend the National College Access Network’s (NCAN) annual conference in St. Louis to share experiences from Blueprints College Access Initiative and learn from other college access providers around the nation.

From breakout sessions sharing best practices for assessment and sustainability to inspiring plenary sessions and networking opportunities, the conference provided for an incredible time of learning and growth that will undoubtedly prove valuable as we work to deepen the relationships with our Blueprints partners and their communities.

During the conference, we also had the privilege of presenting Blueprints at NCAN’s Best Practices Gallery, which focused on best practices in helping diverse student groups access and success in college. We were thrilled to share information about what Blueprints is doing in Alabama with over 600 conference attendees.

One of the most important things we learned was the power of state and local college access networks.  These networks work to get more 21st century students into and through college, and by leveraging their collective impact they are able to create large-scale social change for student success. Alabama does not currently have a college access network, and that is something we aim to change over the next year.

The NCAN conference was a wonderful learning opportunity, but even more so, a motivator to see the ground we must make up in college attainment in the state of Alabama. Increasing college access is vital to fighting poverty in Alabama, and we couldn’t do it without your help.

Want to learn more about best practices to increase college access?  Some of the conference sessions are posted in the virtual conference section here, and many of the presentation handouts are available here.

Want to get involved with Blueprints? Here’s how:

  • Organize college visits with local high school students: email Hannah Selles to get started.
  • Become a mentor: connect with Blueprints programs currently underway in Tuscaloosa (at the University of Alabama), Marion (through Judson College), Montevallo (at the University of Montevallo) and Birmingham (with UAB).
  • Help cover the costs of materials and staffing with your financial gift.

Higher Ed & Tornado Response: 2011 Summer Higher Education Workshop

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Last Wednesday, nearly 70 people attended our Higher Education Alliance Summer Workshop and Annual Meeting to share resources and ideas on how to incorporate tornado recovery into students’ service-learning experiences.

Take-aways from the workshop included:

(1)   Tornado Recovery Is Not a Sprint; It Is a Marathon: This is a 3-5 year process, and low-income individuals are particularly vulnerable to such disasters due to their place and type of residence, building construction, and social exclusion. And in addition to its physical impact, disasters also result in great psychological impact.

(2)   Increase Awareness: Educate and involve your students, faculty, employees, co-workers, communities, and peers in relief and recovery.

(3)   Involve Those Around You: Build disaster relief and recovery programs on your campuses utilizing outreach and service-learning.

(4)   Form Partnerships and Relationships: With recovery groups, such as FEMA and Long-Term Recovery Committees. These are vitally important in creating a sustainable recovery.

(5)   Network, Coordinate, and Collaborate: With other agencies and student, community, and faith organizations.

(6)   Reflect, Reevaluate, and Reassess: Save time, expense, and energy while increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

(7)   Prepare for the Future: Alabama is the sixth most tornado-prone state (and seventh most disaster-prone state).

Here is the story of the day in pictures:

The day kicks off at 10, and after our Executive Director Kristina Scott welcomes the crowd and presents “Repairing Alabama After the Tornadoes,” giving context to the day:

Dr. Brenda Phillips, Professor with the Center for the Study of Disasters and Extreme Events at Oklahoma State University, gives the keynote address, Disaster Learning and Service Learning, followed by Q&A:

After lunch, attendees gather to hear presentations from APP partners including:

Gus Heard-Hughes, Director of Initiatives of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, discusses the CFGB’s work funding case managers for tornado victims and providing long-term recovery assistance in the wake of April 2011 tornadoes in his presentation,  “Long-term Recovery Committees and Case Management”:

Wellon Bridgers and Kathryn Merritt, of The University Fellows Experience present “Transforming a Black Belt Experience into The Experience”:

Next, Phi Theta Kappa and Northwest-Shoals Community College (Phil Campbell) present “That’s Why It’s Called a Community College: Northwest-Shoals College and Phil Campbell”:

Finally, attendees conclude the workshop with small group discussions and reflection:

Thank you for the great feedback. Emily Myers of Auburn described the event as “cutting-edge,” Creston Lynch of the University of Alabama as “dynamic,” and Dennis Itson of Faulkner University as “an enhancement to our university’s programs.”

Our Hess Fellow David Olsen served as the program coordinator for the workshop.  Many thanks to him and everyone else who came together to make this workshop a great success.

To learn more about Tornado Recovery, Vulnerable Populations, and what you can do to address these issues in your community check out these resources:

Poverty and Economic Security

Disaster Recovery

FEMA Resources

Case Management Resources




Alabama Poverty Project Named Outstanding Community Partner by the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement

Friday, March 11th, 2011

BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Poverty Project (APP) last week was named the Outstanding Community Partner for their contributions to service-learning during the 9th Annual Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Through Higher Education, which took place March 2-4, 2011, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Roanoke, VA.

“This award is given to an organization who demonstrates excellence in creating and sustaining opportunities for engaging college and university students in service-learning,” said Amanda Buberger, Awards Chair and Assistant Director of Campus-Community Partnerships at Tulane University.

APP supports strategic planning and implementation of service-learning programs with members of their Higher Education Alliance to reduce poverty and increase educational attainment.

“Service-learning engages students in poverty elimination by giving them meaningful service experiences and first-hand knowledge of issues affecting their local communities. Service-learning collaborations with K-12 community partners are an important piece of increasing educational achievement and college access for all Alabamians,” said Kristina Scott, Executive Director of APP.

APP’s Higher Education Alliance includes 22 post-secondary institutions. Members convene annually at APP’s Lifetime of Learning Conference to present best practices on service-learning with students in Alabama’s 2-year and 4-year institutions. Recent topics included increasing student retention through service-learning, building learning communities around service and creating sustainable community partnerships.

“This award recognizes the amazing work our partners are doing across Alabama to engage students to get out into their local communities. Together we work to promote service learning and civic engagement to increase educational attainment and economic security for all Alabamians,” said Scott.

About the Alabama Poverty Project:

Alabama is the seventh poorest state in the nation, with 17.5 percent of households subsisting below the poverty line. The Alabama Poverty Project (APP) mobilizes Alabamians to eliminate poverty through strategic relationships with faith communities, higher education institutions and civic organizations.

About the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement:

The mission of the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement through Higher Education is to promote networking among practitioners, research, ethical practices, reciprocal campus-community partnerships, sustainable programs, and a culture of engagement and public awareness through service-learning and other forms of civic engagement.

Posted by Robyn Hyden