Innovate Birmingham: Success Stories From First Class Of Graduates

Times staff report

(Contributed photo)

Allanté Jowers knows the merits of the Innovate Birmingham program. 

“Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of someone believing in you,” said Jowers, a graduate of the program and now a University of Alabama at Birmingham IT certified specialist. “I’m [now] employed by the school that I had to take time [from] to get my finances together. Now I’m also going to school for free.” 

Jowers is part of the Innovate Birmingham Regional Workforce Partnership, a coalition of public, community, business, and education leaders committed to fostering economic growth for the region and offering better opportunities for young adults. 

The goal is to train Birmingham-area young people for high-wage, high-demand IT jobs. 

Jowers is among 18 Generation IT boot-camp graduates who paved the way for the second group set to graduate Sept. 8, alongside the new web development boot-camp, IamBham. 

Like Jowers, many of the graduates of the first inaugural boot-camp classes have gone on to join IT ranks at entities such as UAB, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Regions Bank and, Protective Life. Current students of both computer technician and web development boot-camps have interviewed with tech-heavy companies such as Daxco, CGI, Honda and more. 

On August 3, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, UAB President Ray Watts, and Innovate Birmingham City Director Josh Carpenter presented a $75,000 grant awarded by the National Conference of Mayors, which will be used to support students in Innovate Birmingham.  

“Invest in the talent of young people, and they will rise to the moment,” Carpenter said. 

The second group of Generation IT boot-camp participants are set to graduate Sept. 8, alongside the new web development boot-camp, IamBham. 

Both boot-camp classes kicked off June 5 and trains future developers and technicians for Birmingham’s IT-dependent workforce. 

Dylan Smith, a student of IamBham, said, “I’m starting to see myself as a developer, whereas before it was just hopes and dreams.” 

Madison Perryman-Hill, another student with Generation IT, believes that the Innovate Birmingham partnership is part of the magic “returning to the Magic City.” 

She plans to pursue more certifications as she earns her CompTIA A+, an industry-recognized credential which validates understanding of common hardware and software business technologies, as part of the Generation’s curriculum.  

IamBham graduates are certified by UAB’s Collat School of Business as front-end web developers. Their final projects made entirely of software coding. 

Mayor Bell said, “The [IT] education these young people are getting will change the entire fortune of their families … [I]t gives them the dignity of [attaining] a prestigious job[;] then it allows them to gain skills that they can show the world … It gives them hope.”