Since March 2014, Mark Crosswhite has served as President and CEO of Alabama Power, a company that provides electricity to more than 1.5 million customers across the state. When he retires on December 31, 2022, part of his legacy will be the 2021 launch of Prosper, a nonprofit focused on equitable and inclusive growth throughout the region. We talked with J.W. Carpenter of Prosper and Corey Anand of Kaya Health to learn more.
Prosper exists to address inequities in our community
Prosper is focusing on job creation, job preparation and job access via four key initiatives:
- Birmingham Promise
- Black Owned Business Acceleration
- Health Tech Accelerator
- Business Advisory Services
“Prosper launched in 2021 as a collaborative effort to address the inequities in our community when it comes to economic growth. We want to make sure that we are growing, and that everyone is at the table with a focus on making sure that women and people of color are getting the kinds of opportunities that will help them and benefit the whole community.”J.W. Carpenter, President, Prosper
Carpenter reflected on three key elements Mark Crosswhite brought to Prosper’s founding as its first board chair: momentum to make an impact, equity to ensure that everyone is included and availability to provide resources, critical thinking and advice when needed.
“As Prosper launched, one man has really been at the center. That’s Mark Crosswhite, our first board chair.
It has been incredible over the last two years to get to work with Mark to see how a leader of a large organization thinks about equity in his day job, how he applies that vision to what he wants in the community and how he brings people together at all different levels to ensure that our community is not just great now, but great 10 years from now, and great for all of our citizens.”J.W. Carpenter, President, Prosper
The big why
Carpenter has a clear view of what Prosper’s success will look like:
“If we’re prosperous, successful and growing inclusively, that means more people are thriving here, more businesses are opening here and more people are moving here. Yes, that means more people are turning on lights, which is a good thing, but it’s not what motivates Mark and the folks at Alabama Power—it’s a heart for making sure we are growing inclusively because it’s the right thing to do.”
Health Tech Accelerator with Gener8tor
Carpenter is especially proud of the work Prosper and gener8tor have done with the Health Tech Accelerator, which brings 10 companies—from Birmingham and around the world—together for 12 weeks. Some decide to build their companies here, like Corey Anand, Founder and CEO of Kaya Care, Inc.
Kaya is a virtual mental health platform offering clinically-led groups connecting people with shared experiences. Anand moved to Birmingham from San Francisco in March 2022 for the Health Tech Accelerator. Funding from the Alabama Futures Fund and others spurred him to open an office here. Now he’s excited to play a role in Birmingham’s growing tech scene.
Innovation makes all the difference
“The story to tell about Mark and Alabama Power is that Mark has been willing to make Alabama Power, not just a supporter, but a leader in innovative things. That includes Prosper, Birmingham Promise, the Prosper Health Tech Accelerator and TechStars.
The Health Tech Accelerator is part of a larger story of Alabama Power saying we’re going to do strategic investment and strategic giving.
What we’ll miss about Mark is he was really willing to put Alabama Power out there to do innovative things that weren’t necessarily going to work in all levels, because he knew that’s what it took to really bend the curve.”J.W. Carpenter, President, Prosper