APP is recruiting two AmeriCorps*VISTAs to work with our Blueprints College Access Initiative. This is a great way to get real job experience in a supportive environment, work with high school students, and promote a college-going culture.
Posts Tagged ‘service-learning’
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 www.blueprintsalabama.org
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.
Amid news that nearly one-third of Alabamians received food stamps during May, we wanted to highlight some of the work our Higher Education Members are doing to increase food security in their communities.
When asked what the garden’s mission is, Director of Service-Learning Dennis Itson replied, “Our mission is to feed the elderly and those in need.”
Nearly 100 senior citizens live in apartments adjacent to the university. In addition to feeding them, the garden serves as a form of therapy and spiritual renewal too.
The garden also serves the educational needs of nearby elementary schools and college science classes, who go to the garden to learn about science and conduct experiments
Dennis stresses the vital role that volunteers have played in the success of the garden. “People have volunteered their time, seeds, plants, money, tractors, and even their land to make this garden a reality and success,” states Dennis. Volunteers include students, faculty and staff, and even local residents, schools, churches, and community groups.
The garden sits upon a 70 x 35 foot plot. It includes corn, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, okra, onions, peppers, rosemary, squash, watermelons, and others vegetables, and has helped feed nearly eighty residents.
Dennis holds big plans for the garden’s future. He plans to increase its size by adding a second plot of land. Faulkner will also offer a gardening class in the fall.
All in all, our trip to the garden proved a great success. Who would have known that such a simple idea would spark such a successful response? In addition to learning about the garden and its achievements, Dennis also taught us a thing or two about gardening. Dennis has a big heart, and he loves his community. We thank him for hosting us and for sharing with us the garden.
To learn more about community gardens, check out these resources.
To learn more about poverty and food insecurity in Alabama, check out this resource.
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.
(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.
Here is the story of the day in pictures:
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.”
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
- Poverty and FEMA Unmet Needs in Alabama’s Counties – Excel File
- Social Vulnerability to Disaster (Dr. Brenda Phillips)
- Alabama Basic Economic Security Tables 2011
- Poverty and Disasters in the United States (Fothergill-Peek)
- 2011 Alabama Poverty Data Sheet
- Holistic Disaster Recovery
- Effective Emergency Management: Making Improvements for Communities and People with Disabilities
- Disaster Recovery (Dr. Brenda Phillips)
- Long Term Recovery Committees List
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
- Project SHARE: Servant-leaders Helping the Alabama Region to Excel
- FEMA Experiential Learning Resources
- FEMA Emergency Management Higher Education Program
- Independent Study Programs from FEMA
- Glossary of FEMA Terms
Case Management Resources
- Case Management Forms: Initial Assessment
- Case Management Recovery Toolkit
- Disaster Case Management Implementation Guide
- Problem Solving Checklist
- An Evaluation of the Impact of the National Disability Rights Network Participation in the Katrina and Today Project (Stough & Sharp)
- Case Management with Displaced Survivors of Hurricane Katrina: A Case Study of One Host Community (Bell)
- Dr. Brenda Phillips- Disaster Learning & Service Learning
- Kristina Scott- Repairing Alabama After the Tornadoes
- The University of Alabama Honors College
- Northwest Shoals Community College (Phil Campbell) and Video:
A guest post from Hess Fellow David Olsen:
Hannah, Kristina and I recently attended the David Mathews Center’s “Making Community Decisions About Alabama’s Dropout Situation” at Auburn University Montgomery.
I learned that high school dropouts earn $10,000 less a year than high school graduates and $1,000,000 less over a lifetime than those with a bachelors degree.
And 75 percent of all state prison inmates dropped out of high school.
Hannah was there to present our Blueprints College Access Initiative along with our partner University of Montevallo Service-Learning Coordinator Dr. Hollie Cost, and I visited with other community-based programs targeting educational attainment.
Two words stood out throughout the day: engagement and innovation.
Most programs engage others to keep kids in schools. What surprised me was that they all do it differently.
- Some engage students by helping and inspiring them to graduate and go to college, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County.
- Others engage parents and equip them to help their child, like First Teachers@home.
- Many engage schools and inspire them to become something better, like Winterboro High School.
- Still others engage entire communities and hold everyone accountable for their public schools, like the Montgomery Education Foundation.
Innovation was also a common theme. The problems facing our schools are not simple, so we must be creative and adapt to a new generation of students.
But for a moment, I doubted if all of this work actually made a difference.
Then Keynote Speaker Dr. Tommy Bice told us that Alabama had the nation’s fourth largest gain in graduation rates between 2002-2008.
This stuff does work.
It’s time to celebrate! We just wrapped up our second year of the Blueprints College Access Initiative at high schools in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Marion and Montevallo.
Blueprints creates a college-positive culture and increases college access by supporting families in college and career planning. It is structured as a service-learning partnership between college students and local high school students. College mentors lead students through a multi-week in-class curriculum to explore career planning, paying for college, preparing to apply and choosing a school.
Above: Students from Woodlawn High School in Birmingham celebrated their Blueprints graduation with a focused campus tour to UAB.
“Three of my students are aspiring doctors now!” said Mrs. Hollis-Davis (pictured above, center). She said she believes Blueprints inspired them to aim high, and she hopes we can continue our partnership next year.
“Blueprints taught me things I didn’t even know about college and financial aid,” said mentor J.T. Moore, a UAB student who has struggled himself to get to college. “I can really relate to these kids.”
One of his students, Jermaine, was the Blueprints valedictorian. He earned the most points for his Blueprints portfolio by completing extra-curricular assignments with the help of his teachers, parents and mentors, and he’s been thinking about career options. “I thought I wanted to be a rapper, but now I also want to be a lawyer,” he said.
Another Woodlawn student, Tiara, wants to be a pediatrician. “Blueprints taught me about a lot of ways to get money to help pay for college!” she said. “My graddad always wanted me to go to UAB, and now I’m really thinking about it.”
Above: Students from Central High School in Tuscaloosa visited the University of Alabama campus with UA student mentors.
Blueprints is a service-learning program. College student mentors reflect on their service experiences through in-class learning and discussion about poverty, opportunity and education.
Lindsey Weiner, a University of Alabama Honors College student, said that the service-learning coursework added meaning to her service experience. “We watched ‘Waiting for Superman’ and talked about education in the classroom. It allowed me to reflect on the challenges facing our students and teachers today.”
Above: Students from Francis-Marion High School toured Alabama State University.
Francis-Marion’s counselor, Mr. McCaa, told us that Blueprints is an important addition to students’ classroom experience, and that getting students to visit a college campus is especially important. Her students were excited about college after spending a day at ASU, where they experienced a Greek Week step show, toured new buildings and visited the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture.
“I’m going to college, for real!” affirmed Francis-Marion junior Jennifer, who says she wants to be a criminal justice and forensics major after watching CSI and Bones. “I wasn’t excited before, but after today, I really think I could do this.”
Another student, Derrick, said he was thinking about going to art school after a Blueprints mentor encouraged his interest in drawing.
Above: Montevallo High School freshmen completed Blueprints and celebrated their graduation on a campus visit to the University of Montevallo.
Christina Morris (pictured above) from Montevallo High School won Blueprints Valedictorian and read her essay about how Blueprints helped her believe that her dream could become reality.
“From the time I was ten years old, it has always been my lifelong dream to become a doctor. At the time, I had no clue where to turn to get the resources I would need to achieve my goal.” Christina said that leadership from teachers and mentors helped her start thinking early about how to achieve her goal.
“You miss 100 percent of the chances you don’t take,” Montevallo mentor Patrick shared with his students, admitting that he knows he could have done better and worked harder in high school. “You don’t want to look back on your life when you get to be my age and ask yourself ‘what if.'”
We were thrilled to offer Blueprints to over 100 Montevallo High School freshman this year for the very first time! As Blueprints continues to grow, we hope to reach even more students at our partner schools.
Blueprints receives foundational support from the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, Walmart Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation and BBVA Compass Foundation.
Increasing college access is vital to fighting poverty in Alabama, and we couldn’t do it without your help. Donate now to help keep Blueprints going strong for another year.
Posted by Robyn Hyden
Alabama Poverty Project Named Outstanding Community Partner by the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic EngagementFriday, 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
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
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.
Thank you for your continued support. With your help and partnership, it is possible to end poverty in Alabama.
-Track our fundraising progress at alabamapossible.org/fundraiser