#BirminghamPromise—here’s what you need to know about Woodfin’s college tuition plan

Screen Shot 2019 08 28 at 9.49.20 AM 1 #BirminghamPromise—here's what you need to know about Woodfin's college tuition plan
Photo via Mayor Randall Woodfin on Facebook

Big news was announced last night by Birmingham, AL Mayor Randall Woodfin. A new initiative is launching that will increase access to higher education for Birmingham City School students.


Last night, Mayor Randall Woodfin tweeted this out from his official account:

He followed up with this clarification:

This program could bring massive opportunity for Birmingham City School students. Where’s it coming from? Who can take advantage? We’ve got the details.

So, what’s starting this?

This announcement is something the Mayor’s office has been working on for a while now.

Summer 2019 was the first year the city hosted an apprenticeship program that connects Birmingham City Schools seniors and recent graduates with career exposure.

According to this press release, the program is focused on offering students high-quality, work-based learning experiences in four, high-growth industry areas: finance and insurance, healthcare and life sciences, energy and engineering, and digital technology.

The apprenticeship program was a pilot initiative of the larger Birmingham Promise program.

Where is the money coming from?

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While city funds will seed the program, corporate sponsors will also be involved. Photo via Regions News on Twitter

After the tweet was sent out, this was the big question on social media. Here’s what we know:

According to this press release from the beginning of the summer, the foundation for this program is being built into the 2019-20 budget. The city of Birmingham designated $2 million to “post-secondary education and training opportunities for BCS graduates”

According to Woodfin, this money will seed the Promise campaign. Moving forward, the campaign will largely be funded by donations, both corporate and personal.

What are the requirements?

The main requirements are as follows:

  • You must live within the Birmingham city limits
  • You must attend Birmingham City Schools

However, in an effort to keep people from “gaming the system,” Woodfin added this clarification:

If a student has lived within the city limits for all 12 years of school and attended K-12 at Birmingham City Schools, this initiative will cover 100% of their tuition.

HOWEVER, if a student has only lived within the city limits and attended BCS for high school (9-12 grade), only 1/3 of their tuition will be covered.

Essentially, for each year a student lives and attends school in the city of Birmingham, they will earn 1/12 of their college tuition.

Why is this a priority?

Screen Shot 2019 08 28 at 9.49.20 AM #BirminghamPromise—here's what you need to know about Woodfin's college tuition plan
Photo via Mayor Randall Woodfin on Facebook

Woodfin claims that this campaign is part of a larger effort to invest in young Birmingham citizens.

We are fortunate that 2018-2019 was a record-breaking year for economic investment in our city. We produced more than $1.7 million more in revenue for our schools compared to last year.

Our strong economic development performance has emboldened us to invest in the talent and workforce development of the future generation.

Mayor Randall Woodfin

According to the Mayor’s office, more than 45 percent of Birmingham City School (BCS) students are living in poverty, and only 50 percent of BCS students advance to post-secondary institutions.

What are the next steps here?

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Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Dr. Lisa Herring, superintendent of Birmingham City Schools. Photo by Mark Almond, via birminghamal.gov

Woodfin live-streamed on his social media platforms this morning to share more about the campaign. During which, he remarked on his awareness that this will not be a simple undertaking:

Sometimes we have to make tough, hard decisions. But this is the right thing to do.

Randall Woodfin

As Woodfin and his office release more information, we’ll be keeping you updated. If you’re not already, be sure to follow Bham Now on Facebook and Instagram so you never miss positive Birmingham news!

What are your thoughts on #BirminghamPromise?

Beth Cunningham
Beth Cunningham

A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.

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