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Corporations donate $7 million to Birmingham Promise

It's is a game changer for Birmingham High School seniors, but coronavirus has put parts of the...
It's is a game changer for Birmingham High School seniors, but coronavirus has put parts of the Birmingham Promise on hold.(WBRC)
Published: May. 25, 2021 at 11:52 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin and Birmingham Promise Inc. Executive Director Rachel Harmon announced $7 million in corporate gifts to support college scholarships and other services provided through the organization.

The gifts include a $5 million commitment from Vulcan Value Partners, an investment management firm located in Birmingham.

Additional commitments of $1 million each came from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Protective Life Corporation (Protective).

“These investments represent a commitment not only to the students who benefit directly from Birmingham Promise but to the future of our city,” Mayor Woodfin said. “Birmingham Promise is laying a foundation that will create economic opportunity and prosperity here for generations to come.”

Birmingham Promise provides tuition assistance for graduates of Birmingham City Schools who attend in-state public colleges and universities, as well as success coaches who continue to support the students during their college journey. Birmingham Promise also provides paid apprenticeships that allow Birmingham high school juniors and seniors to gain work experience.

“Our goal is to clear pathways to opportunity for our students in Birmingham,” Harmon said. “Whether we’re providing career experiences or money for college, the objective is to unleash potential and open doors. We are planting the seeds of success for these students and for our city.”

Vulcan Value Partners said the vision of Birmingham Promise is aligned with its corporate philosophy and goals.

“As long-term investors, we look for leadership and vision, both of which Mayor Woodfin has delivered with Birmingham Promise,” said C.T. Fitzpatrick, the founder, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Vulcan Value Partners. “By committing to Birmingham Promise, we are investing in our future – our young people – knowing that what we are doing today will pay dividends in the future.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama said supporting Birmingham Promise is a way to enhance the overall well-being of the community.

“One of our corporate values at Blue Cross is ‘Give Back to the Community,’ a commitment that we uphold and continue to carry out by investing in the health, education and well-being of Alabamians,” said Tim Vines, President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “Through these efforts, our goal is to help create a stronger, healthier Alabama, and the Birmingham Promise is a perfect fit for this vision.”

Students who have benefited from the program expressed thanks to corporate donors as well as the city of Birmingham, which has committed $10 million over five years to the program.

“I want to thank Mayor Woodfin, the Birmingham City Council, and the other individuals and companies that are providing these opportunities to me and other students in Birmingham City Schools,” said Justin Williams, a Parker High School graduate, Birmingham Promise scholarship recipient, and University of Alabama computer engineering student.  “By investing in Birmingham Promise, they are helping to open doors for all of us and hopefully getting us in a position one day to provide the same kind of leg-up for students in the future.”

Among the Class of 2021, 618 students have completed the application and are on track to provide all required documentation by June 1.

Dr. Mark Sullivan, superintendent of Birmingham City Schools, thanked Birmingham Promise and its corporate donors for supporting his students.

“This week, hundreds of scholars will graduate from Birmingham City Schools.  While we are excited about their accomplishments, we are even more excited about what they will do in the future,” Sullivan said. “Many of our scholars will pursue university and community college degrees with financial support from Birmingham Promise.  This announcement of additional contributions today is a huge investment in our business and civic leaders of tomorrow. Thank you.”

For more information, visit www.birminghampromise.org or call 205-843-5967.

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