The price of the Birmingham Promise – WVTM13

The price of the \Birmingham Promise\ - WVTM13
What Birmingham students need to know about Woodfins college promise
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Wednesday, Mayor Randall Woodfin touted the plan to give free college tuition for Birmingham city school graduates. Its all a part of the Birmingham Promise campaign.

“It is time for the city to be bold. What better way to be bold but to invest than to invest in our youngest generation, Mayor Randall Woodfin said.

An apprenticeship program is also a part of the promise initiative which gives juniors and seniors a chance to get a job with a Birmingham company. They will make $15 per hour. The hope is that it will help fill the many vacant jobs in the city and give them a real-life job experience along with training.

“I think thats a very big thing that a lot of businesses are very interested in, because its filling a direct need in their workforce. Its literally grooming that next generation of talent, Ty West, with the Birmingham Business Journal said.

West tells us businesses have been buzzing about the promise campaign for months now. He says this investment could pay big dividends in the community.

“Weve heard a lot of optimism about this in the business community because they view it as investment not really just in the student themselves but an investment in the future of the workforce, investment in the economy and an investment in Birmingham City Schools, West said.

The apprenticeship is a pilot program. This past summer 20 students took part. Were told the ultimate goal is for the city to partner with the private sector to fund these apprenticeships in the future.

In June, 20 students were matched with local companies for their seven-week apprenticeship as part of the Birmingham Promise Apprenticeship Pilot Program.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin took to social media Tuesday night that starting in 2020, students who graduate from Birmingham City Schools will have the chance to attend tuition-free any in-state public college or university.

This plan to help Birmingham graduates afford a college education is part of Birmingham Promise, announced in May when Woodfin presented the 2020 budget to the Birmingham City Council.

Starting in 2020, any Birmingham City School student that walks across the graduation stage will have the opportunity to attend any in-state two or four year school tuition free. #BirminghamPromise

Woodfins tweet launched a barrage of questions about the plan for tuition-free college, how it will be paid for and who gets this benefit.

Alright. I know everyone has lots of questions about the #BirminghamPromise . Heres a quick statement from @randallwoodfin about it. pic.twitter.com/SlpI9JbCog

Funding for the Birmingham Promise will come from the city, private donations and fundraising partners. Woodfin said fundraising has already begun and that the money is already being received.

Because the city is not allowed by law to provide college scholarships, the city must have fundraising partners who will guide the funds to students.

Individuals can donate to the Birmingham Promise online here. United Way is serving as the fiscal agent for the donations.

Woodfin said the Birmingham Promise will cost millions. He said he hopes to endow the Birmingham Promise with around $35 million.

City officials have not said how much they think this will cost per year, but Woodfin assured the funding will be there for when seniors graduate next year.

Were going to meet the mark, Woodfin said. Were going to meet the mark because we have to meet it. We will continue to do bold things for our youngest generation. We will continue to do bold things for our families in our city because that is what is required."

The Birmingham Promise will only pay any leftover balance from college tuition after the student has exhausted his or her scholarships and federal grant funding. It does not work like a traditional scholarship.

The Birmingham Promise is set up so it benefits students who have attended Birmingham City Schools for at least 12 years.

This means, if a student attended Birmingham City schools for 12 years, graduates and is accepted into college, has received grants and scholarships, but still has a balance, the Birmingham Promise will pay for the remainder of that students tuition.

However, if a student only attended Birmingham City schools for four years, the Promise will only pay 4/12 (one-third) of the remaining balance.

Woodfin says its set up this way to ensure students dont transfer into Birmingham City Schools to game the system.

The Birmingham Promise can provide job experience and higher education opportunities for Birmingham students. Not every Birmingham school graduate pursues higher education as their next step. In fact, only about 50 percent of Birmingham high school graduates pursue college. The Promise works to help students get real job experience even before graduation.

Juniors and seniors at Birmingham schools can get a job at a Birmingham company during the summer. The student will make $15 per hour. The company the student is working for will pay $7.50 per hour and the city will pay $7.50.

The goal, ultimately, is to fill the thousands of unfilled jobs in Birmingham and provide students an opportunity to get experience with a company, and hopefully, a good job in Birmingham after high school graduation or after college.

The apprenticeship program will allow students to get experience with a company ahead of college graduation, so they can possibly return to that company to work. Having students with previous experience with a company makes that student a better full-time job candidate, Woodfin said.

This past summer, 20 Birmingham students were matched with local companies for summer apprenticeships.

Twenty Birmingham seniors and recent graduates were matched with companies on Thursday for a seven-week apprenticeship as part of the Birmingham Promise Apprenticeship Pilot Program.

It makes sense for corporate Birmingham. It makes sense for community partners to invest in this because it has a long-term effect on workforce development, workforce training, expanding employment opportunities, creating jobs and expanding jobs. You have a ready-made workforce weve already made investment in, Woodfin said.

Johnson: Woodfins education promise may be most vital budget component, most difficult to fulfill

Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin's first budget features all sorts of interesting ways to spend $451 million. The most vital expenditure may just be the $2 million the city has budgeted for the mayor's Birmingham Promise initiative to offer apprenticeships and scholarships to BCS students.

Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders even weighed in on the promise on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

Every kid in this country should be able to get a higher education if they desire one. We must follow the lead of cities like Birmingham and make higher education accessible to all by making public colleges, universities and trade schools tuition-free.

Starting in 2020, any Birmingham City School student that walks across the graduation stage will have the opportunity to attend any in-state two or four year school tuition free. #BirminghamPromise

Alright. I know everyone has lots of questions about the #BirminghamPromise . Heres a quick statement from @randallwoodfin about it. pic.twitter.com/SlpI9JbCog


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