College, career and life ready: get to know the Birmingham Education Foundation

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The Birmingham Education Foundation (Birmingham Ed) is getting students ready for life after high school. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Ed

Did you know there’s a nonprofit in Birmingham that prepares kids for life after high school? It’s called the Birmingham Education Foundation (Ed), and the organization is making an impact on students in Birmingham City Schools.

See the impact on former Huffman High School student Darius Struggs, Jr. and learn more about Ed below!

Birmingham Education Foundation: Tell Me More

Birmingham Ed connects students, educators and community members. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Ed

“The Birmingham Education Foundation (Ed) is dedicated to increasing the number of students in Birmingham City Schools that are on the path to college, career and life readiness.”

JW Carpenter, executive director, Birmingham Education Foundation

How does Ed make this happen? They work with the Career Academies in Birmingham City Schools to build a network of educators, families local residents and community partners to prepare students for life after graduation. It doesn’t matter if they are attending a two-year degree program, four-year college, joining the military or starting their careers. Birmingham Ed has more than 150 community partners that work with kids across the city. 

“Our students have unlimited potential, but often don’t have the opportunities. Fundamentally, we see ourselves as connectors between students, educators and the broader community for these opportunities.”

JW Carpenter, executive director, Birmingham Education Foundation

What are Ed’s programs?

Students at a Birmingham Ed event. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Ed 

Ed’s suite of direct programming for students is called “Educate Local” and contains several opportunities for students as young as 7th grade all the way through five years after they graduate high school.

  • Executive Skill Building. Ed hosts conferences for students as early as seventh grade.  These events teach kids crucial career and life skills including public speaking. 
  • College Access Programs. Through these programs, students are given scholarships to visit colleges along with an adult. 
  • Fundraisers. Ed hosts a fundraiser at Topgolf where high school seniors earn scholarships playing golf with sponsors from our community. Last year, over 30 students earned scholarships and enjoyed a great networking experience. 
  • Job Shadowing. In eleventh grade, students shadow at various jobs throughout town.
  • Internships. Students in their senior year can apply for paid internships at Birmingham companies. They not only learn real-world job skills, but also the steps to secure a full-time position at one of these companies.
  • Ed Alumni Network. Ed’s newest program offers up to five years of support for Career Academy students after they graduate high school as they earn degrees, progress in their career, and serve in the military.

“Nothing we do could work without talented students, involved families, dedicated educators, and a generous community.”

JW Carpenter, executive director, Birmingham Education Foundation

Meet a Former Ed Intern: Darius Struggs, Jr.

Darius Struggs of Vulcan Materials Company. Photo via Taylor Babington for Bham Now 

Darius Struggs, maintenance technician at Vulcan Materials Company began his career in 2018 during his senior year of high school as a paid intern through Ed.

The experience gave him the opportunity to learn valuable skills while setting him on a career course. 

“Darius is the perfect fit for what we do because he wanted to be hands-on,” said Steve Jackson, supervisor of building services at Vulcan Materials Company. “He has learned so much, from expanding his skill set to include building maintenance tasks to providing great customer service.”

Darius showed initiative on the job right away, jumping in and learning what it takes to keep a large office building running.  He also learned valuable customer service skills through interacting with employees around the office.

Internship to Career

Darius Struggs with maintenance team members Jerry Cook and Harry Duke at Vulcan Materials Company. Photo via Taylor Babington for Bham Now

According to Darius, “showing up ready to learn everyday,” is what helped him land a job at Vulcan Materials after graduation. He is now a full-time employee and is continuing his education by taking classes at Jefferson State Community College.

Darius credits his Huffman High teachers, Mrs. Sandy Moore and Mr. Terence Marzette for connecting him to Ed. He is grateful to Ed for providing the opportunity at Vulcan Materials Company, a long-time partner of the nonprofit. His success at the company is a direct result of his commitment, hard work and dedication.   

“Darius not only performs his tasks well, he takes the time to get to know people and works to help in any way he can. He is an asset to Vulcan.”

Steve Jackson, Vulcan Materials Company

Want to get involved?

More than 1,000 volunteers work with Ed each year. If you or your company would like to get involved, contact J.W. Carpenter at 205.306.2061 or jwcarpenter@edbirmingham.org.

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