More than 600 graduates of Birmingham City Schools will attend college this fall with financial aid and other assistance from Birmingham Promise.
Birmingham Promise scholarships have been awarded to 380 students in the most recent graduating class, with recipients representing each of the city’s seven high schools. In addition, more than 250 scholarship recipients from the Class of 2020 will return to college this year with help from the program “designed to make college accessible and affordable for our students,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “We are so proud to see the difference Birmingham Promise is making for so many young people in our city.”
Birmingham Promise began offering tuition assistance in 2020 to graduates of Birmingham City Schools. The program provides assistance for up to four years of college for students who attend any public college or university in Alabama.
“Birmingham Promise is a big help,” said KeVonte Bailey, a 2021 graduate of Jackson-Olin High School who will begin his premed studies at UAB this fall. “All I’ve got to do is attend school, which is something I love to do.”
The assistance provided by the program goes beyond financial aid. Its success coaches work with scholarship recipients to help them navigate any challenges and do well in school. The program also offers a wide range of summer programs to provide practical guidance on how students can make the most of their college experience. This summer, 300 scholarship recipients attended one or more of these programs.
“We create a financial pathway, but we also support our students to make sure other obstacles don’t get in their way,” said Rachel Harmon, executive director of Birmingham Promise. “Our goal is to make sure that students have every opportunity to go to college, to stay in college and to receive the tools they need to be successful in life.”
The scholarship program launched as COVID-19 created massive disruptions on campuses and required students and Birmingham Promise to adapt to ongoing uncertainty and change.
“We’ve had to be relentless to support students through this time, and like everyone else, we’ve had to be creative and innovative,” Harmon said. “But our students persevered, and we continued to grow, thanks to unwavering support from our partners – from the City of Birmingham and Birmingham City Schools, to our colleges and universities and our corporate donors who continued to step up with financial support.”
In addition to providing Birmingham City Schools students with college opportunities, Birmingham Promise provides paid work experience for high school seniors at local companies in four sectors: healthcare and life sciences, energy and engineering, finance and business, and digital technology.
In the first two years, a total of 150 students benefited from the apprenticeship program. Starting next January, an additional 100 apprentices from the Class of 2022 will be placed in apprentice roles.
“These apprenticeships not only provide a paycheck to help students meet their financial needs, but also provide work experience and a base for networks that are critical to long-term professional success,” Harmon said.
For more information, visit www.birminghampromise.org.