See why these local employers support Innovate Birmingham on Give Day, July 26th

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Innovate Birmingham
Innovate Birmingham has touched the lives of hundreds of Central Alabama residents—just like these alumni. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

At the turn of the 20th century, Birmingham rapidly transformed from a small collection of farmland into the economic engine of Alabama—garnering the name “The Magic City.” Although Birmingham’s steel-making days are behind her, one local non-profit is leading the city’s economic renaissance by educating tech talent and encouraging new businesses to plant their roots in Birmingham.

Monday, July 26th, is your opportunity to invest in the future of The Magic City by making a donation on Innovate Birmingham Give Day. Keep reading to find out how you can make a difference.

Innovate Birmingham—Changing Lives Since 2016

Earlier this year, Landing relocated their headquarters from San Francisco to Birmingham, bringing 800+ jobs to The Magic City. And that’s not all. Over the past couple of years, dozens of startups have moved to Birmingham, drawn by the flourishing tech scene. But it wasn’t always like that.

A little over five years ago, a group of local employers and community partners noticed two problems:

  • There was a growing demand for tech talent in Greater Birmingham, but no talent pool to meet the demand.
  • There were a number of under- and unemployed residents seeking new opportunities.
Innovate Birmingham
Martha Underwood, the Head of Retail Software Engineering at BBVA now a part of PNC and a proud supporter of Innovate Birmingham. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Innovate Birmingham was founded to meet these problems head on. As a locally-focused non-profit organization, Innovate Birmingham is integral to the continued growth of the city—bringing in new companies and fulfilling the need for tech talent in the region.

So how does it work? Innovate Birmingham offers two “boot-camp” style programs—Full-Stack Web Development and Data Analytics—to underserved residents looking to boost their professional development in the tech scene. And the best part? Innovate Birmingham offers these programs at little to no cost to the student.

“Innovate Birmingham is critical not only to the city of Birmingham but to the state of Alabama, because it provides an alternate way for people to get into the technology industry without going the typical route of two- to four-year colleges.”

Martha Underwood, Head of Retail Software Engineering, BBVA now a part of PNC

Innovate Birmingham Supports Homegrown Tech Talent

Derrick Strong — Enterprise Software Developer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Cohort 11

Innovate Birmingham
Derrick Strong is crushing his new job as a Software Developer, thanks to Innovate Birmingham. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Meet Derrick Strong. As a Software Developer for UAB, Derrick specializes in JavaScript, React, React-Native and other coding languages he needs to make sure UAB’s websites, software applications and user portals stay up and running.

What were you doing before you graduated from Innovate Birmingham?

“Innovate Birmingham actually helped me change careers! I started out in marketing, as the CEO of Clear Marketing and Design here in town. I knew I wanted to shift from marketing into a career that I would love, so Innovate Birmingham was a game changer for me. It has truly made a huge impact on my life.”

How has Innovate Birmingham helped your professional development?

“In my opinion, Innovate Birmingham is very instrumental to the future of tech in Birmingham. For me, my time at Innovate Birmingham really helped me to build the skills and confidence that I needed to go further in my career.”

Josh Hurn — Web Development Instructor at Innovate Birmingham

Cohort 6

Innovate Birmingham
Once the student, now the teacher. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

How do you know when students really love their courses? When they come back to teach, of course! Take Josh Hurn. After Innovate Birmingham helped Josh enter an entirely new career path, he chose to return and follow his passion for teaching at the program.

How has Innovate Birmingham impacted your career?

“I’m both an alumnus of the program AND a Web Development Instructor at Innovate Birmingham—in fact, I was Derrick’s teacher! I was working in the restaurant industry when I started at Innovate Birmingham, and now I know software development well enough to teach it.”

What impact have you seen Innovate Birmingham have on its students?

“As an instructor I’ve seen dozens of students, just like Derrick, go out and finds jobs in development with the skills they’ve learned at Innovate Birmingham. Our students are finding jobs at companies like Shipt and Landing, so I can tell we’re having a big impact on the city.”

Briana Palmer — Data Integrity Specialist, Landing

Cohort 11

Innovate Birmingham
Briana Palmer is part of the force behind Landing, right here in Birmingham. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Like Derrick Strong, Briana Palmer was a member of Innovate Birmingham’s 11th Cohort. After graduation, Briana landed a job at Landing, Bill Smith’s newest venture. Now, she’s helping the company grow as the Data Integrity Specialist.

How has Innovate Birmingham impacted your life?

“Before Innovate Birmingham I had no background in IT at all. My degrees are in Integrative Biology and Business, of all things! Innovate Birmingham gave me that foothold I needed to get connected in the local tech workforce. Personally, Innovate Birmingham has had a tremendous impact on my life—and my earning potential!”

How has Innovate Birmingham helped tech startups like Landing?

“As a whole, Innovate Birmingham has definitely provided opportunities for people who otherwise would have no means to gain a foothold in the local tech community. We actually have at least eight Innovate Birmingham graduates working for Landing, from data analytics and host operations to backend software developers!”

What kind of impact does Innovate Birmingham have on the city?

“As for Birmingham? The city’s tech ecosystem is small but mighty! Innovate Birmingham’s programs equip more people with the tools they need to fulfill the talent pool that these companies really need. And it’s all providing growth to The Magic City.”

Your Gift to Innovate Birmingham is an investment in The Magic City itself.

Since it’s founding in 2016, Innovate Birmingham has made a tangible impact on both the local tech scene and the lives of countless Central Alabama residents. But they can’t do it alone.

Through the support of employer partners and people like you in Central Alabama, Innovate Birmingham is able to offer their programs for free. And this year, Innovate Birmingham is making it easier than ever to donate.

Mark your calendars for Monday, July 26th to participate in the first-ever Innovate Birmingham Give Day! On Give Day, you’ll hear from faculty, alumni, employer partners and more—and see how Innovate Birmingham is making such an impact in The Magic City.

You can donate to Innovate Birmingham on Venmo @innovatebirmingham, PayPal and at innovatebham.com/donate.

Be sure to follow Innovate Birmingham on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn so you don’t miss Innovate Birmingham Give Day on July 26th!


  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.