Posts Tagged ‘service-learning’

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

Justin’s dream is to be a meteorologist.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

We talk a lot about how our Blueprints initiative increases college access for low-wealth communities.

Now we want to show you by introducing you to people involved in Blueprints. Students like Justin, an aspiring meteorologist, are learning how they can plan for the future, prepare for graduation, go to college and pursue their dreams.

Watch the video to hear from Justin and other students participating in Blueprints at one high school in Birmingham:


Want to help create a college-positive culture for students in your community?

  • Find our Resources on education, mentoring and college access.
  • Join in Partnership with the Alabama Poverty Project.
  • Give now to help us continue our college access work with students like Justin.



Thank you for your continued support!

Posted by Robyn Hyden

College degrees help Alabamians escape poverty.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

We recently reported on two studies about education: one shows that Alabama lags behind in higher educational attainment, and another shows that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of new jobs will require some form of higher education.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s biggest obstacle to economic development is low educational attainment, reports the Southern Education Foundation.

We know that low educational attainment is linked to high rates of poverty. In Alabama, over 1 in 4 high school dropouts live below the federal poverty line, and 1 in 7 of high school graduates who lack a college degree live in poverty.

The story is much more positive for college graduates. Only 3.4 percent of Alabamians with a college degree live in poverty, and college graduates bring over $1 million in spending power back to their communities.

Our partner Alex Steinmiller (pictured above) gets it. As director of Holy Family Cristo Rey high school in Ensley, he oversees a program where each student participates in a paid corporate internship during high school. Each of his students comes from a household living below the poverty line, and every graduate of the program has gone on to be accepted to college.

Father Alex connected with us at our Lifetime of Learning Conference and at our recent Alabama Possible Summit. “I see our college prep and workforce development programs as part of our response to poverty,” he says. Read more about Father Alex here.

How does the Alabama Poverty Project promote educational attainment?

  • Our Higher Education Alliance increases college access in low-wealth communities, promotes student retention and engages students in partnerships with local communities.
  • Our Blueprints College Access Initiative connects college mentors with high school students in low-wealth communities to promote educational attainment.
  • Our partners promote Service-Learning to engage college students in community service and partnerships with low-wealth communities.

Your gift makes a big difference. As the year ends, we are still facing a budget shortfall of $3,447. Can you give?

Your tax-deductible gift will enable us to continue our work mobilizing Alabamians to eliminate poverty. - Make a Donation to our 2010 Year-End Fundraiser

Thank you for your continued support. With your help and partnership, it is possible to end poverty in Alabama.

-Track our fundraising progress at

2010 Lifetime of Learning conference

Monday, September 20th, 2010

We learned so much from our Higher Education Alliance partners at this year’s Lifetime of Learning conference at Auburn University Montgomery. This year’s subject was college access, student retention and service-learning.

Dr. Barbara Moely of Tulane University’s Center for Public Service opened the conference with a keynote on service-learning and student outcomes (above). She noted that meaningful service-learning provides a more positive learning experience for students, which in turn leads to increased retention and achievement.

Steve Shaw, Chair for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education; Dr. Barbara Moely of Tulane; Kristina Scott of APP; and Dr. David Potts, President of APP and Judson College

Our breakout sessions spotlighted some excellent community-university partnerships at colleges and universities across the state, including Auburn University’s Loachapoka partnership with local K-12 schools, UA’s University Fellows Black Belt Experience in Marion, and Montevallo’s Falcon Scholars program, among others.

Our lunch speaker Dr. Tony Thacker, program administrator for the Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching, spoke of the urgent need for improved K-12 education (above). “Poverty-stricken children are product-tested,” he said, alluding to short-term, low-impact education reform programs. He gave meaningful criticism for colleges and universities interested in starting partnerships with preschool and K-12 schools.

He also noted that when low educational attainment correlates with high poverty and crime rates, a just society should do everything in its power to provide equal educational opportunities. Mr. Thacker emphasized that to educate students, we need to create meaningful learning environments, encourage innovative programming, and nourish strong teachers.

After afternoon breakout sessions, conference participants took a break in our knowledge cafe, where they brainstormed ideas and voted for their favorite outcomes of the day’s discussions.

Our final speaker, Doug Coutts of the UN World Food Programme and Universities Fighting World Hunger at Auburn University, called us to involve Alabama students in fighting hunger in Alabama and beyond (above).

Thank you to all who contributed and took part in the day’s events – speakers, attendees, and volunteers. Special thanks to the Division of Continuing Education and Auburn University at Montgomery for their gracious hospitality. It was a great day of learning and sharing! Hearing all of the innovative programming and passionate educators on the front lines of fighting poverty really shows us what is possible. You prove that we can build a better Alabama by working daily to educate and engage our youth.

Want to learn more?

Posted by Robyn Hyden