The Birmingham Promise—How the City of Birmingham and UAB are making college more accessible

UAB President Ray Watts and Mayor Randall Woodfin are helping forge the future of young students. Photo via Randall Woodfin’s Facebook.

Mayor Woodfin and the City of Birmingham emphasized the importance of investing in education with the Birmingham Promise. This trailblazing program introduces Birmingham City School students to unbelievable opportunities where they gain priceless work experience and encourages education beyond high school.

What is the Birmingham Promise?

The Birmingham Promise is a public-private partnership between the city and local companies. It aims to introduce young citizens into quality jobs to transform the future of Birmingham’s workforce. After all, Birmingham is one of America’s fastest-growing cities.

The program has two main goals:

  • Provide Birmingham City School (BCS) students with local apprenticeships
  • Provide Birmingham City School (BCS) students with in-state college scholarships

Students Were Paired With Local Companies for a Semester-Long Apprenticeship

Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Woodfin, Ramsay, Ta'Kaiya Cooper, Ashleigh Richardson
Ramsay High students Ta’Kaiya Cooper (left) and Ashleigh Richardson (right) with Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. Photo via studentcam.org.

The Birmingham Promise Apprenticeship Program allows BCS students to dive headfirst into an industry of their choosing. Through their semester-long apprenticeship, they have the chance to develop a high skill set in one of these four industries:

  • Finance and insurance
  • Healthcare and life sciences
  • Energy and engineering
  • Digital technology

Earlier this January, 100 students were paired with a local business for their semester-long apprenticeship. Students are matched with one of these 60 local companies:

companies involved in the birmingham promise
This is a top-notch lineup. Photo via City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office LinkedIn.

This just isn’t your typical internship. The Birmingham Promise allows BCS students the chance to jumpstart their careers. They earn high school credit, have access to community mentors, and here goes the coolest part—earn a living wage of $15 an hour!

Who is Eligible for the Birmingham Promise Scholarship?

Even if you didn’t get the opportunity of an apprenticeship, the Birmingham Promise can still benefit you.

If the student attends a Birmingham City School for 12 years, graduates, and attends college, they are eligible for the Birmingham Promise scholarship. It will cover the remaining balance after grants and scholarships have been applied to tuition at in-state institutions.

What if a student only attended Birmingham City Schools for a few years? No worries! Only attended for 6 years? The Birmingham Promise will cover half of the remaining balance.

Years attended at Birmingham City Schools ÷ 12 = How much the Birmingham Promise Scholarship can potentially cover

How the University of Alabama at Birmingham is Making an Impact

UAB is showing its support for the Birmingham Promise in a BIG way. Photo via UAB Facebook.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is the first academic partner to support the Birmingham Promise program by offering a one-to-one scholarship match.

This means that UAB will reward the student with half of the scholarship while the City covers the remaining half. The one-to-one scholarship will cover full tuition for four to five years as long as the student shows academic determination and attends full time.

“We are committed to supporting access to educational opportunities for Birmingham students, for they will be our city’s future leaders and workforce.”

Ray L. Watts, President of University of Alabama at Birmingham

This May, students with a minimum 2.75 GPA and at least a 20 on the ACT will be eligible to earn a scholarship. UAB’s investment will make a huge impact on Birmingham’s youth, to say the least. I’m sure some of us are wishing this opportunity came just a bit sooner. Better late than never right?!

For even more details and a step-by-step of how to apply for tuition assistance head to https://www.birminghampromise.org/.

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  • Chaise is a brunch-loving Content Producer and helps manage the Bham Now Instagram account.