At Ed, we believe that old cliche – it takes a village to raise a child – and so we dedicate a large part of our efforts to building relationships in the community, capitalizing on our local assets, and strategically organizing our efforts around common community goals. That is why we feel to grateful to have such a productive partnership with Alabama Possible, another organization dedicated to “leveraging collective assets to develop creative solutions” to address issues of poverty and education.
The Birmingham-based non-profit works to reduce poverty and its impacts through strategic partnerships with higher education institutions, community partners, policymakers and faith-based organizations. Its programs equip partner organizations with the tools, information, and outreach activities they need to understand poverty and address it effectively.
This year, Ed has been a huge benefactor of Alabama Possible’s expertise and experienced staff. In the fall, Ed launched the College Prep Institute, a program geared at 10th- and 11th- grade students in the career academies at Wenonah and Woodlawn High Schools; and enlisted the help of Alabama Possible to incorporate its Blueprints College Access curriculum into a program centered on career-exploration and academic planning.
Blueprints is a statewide initiative that matches current college students with high school students from low-income families, who then mentor their younger peers through the college-going process and connect them with resources to make college more affordable. The program seeks to demystify the process, helping students to make structured decisions so that they can navigate the college admissions process successfully.
Blueprints program coordinator Kevi Martin understands how important it is to empower students to master the college-admissions process. Martin graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2012 with a B.A. in Women Studies, and as a first generation college student, was instinctively drawn to a career in education. Martin began her professional work as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Alabama Possible’s Blueprints College Access Initiative, and was promoted to program coordinator soon after. At Woodlawn High School, Kevi quickly became a part of the culture, eventually taking on the role of volleyball and basketball coach, in addition to her work with Alabama Possible.
“I dove in head first and made myself as accessible as possible,” Kevi says. “I kept showing up and after a few weeks, the students, faculty, staff and administration became my family.”
As a part of Alabama Possible’s partnership with Ed, AP was able to sustain relationships in Woodlawn and create new relationships in Wenonah, and used the success of the College Prep Institute framework to inform plans to expand into other schools and strengthen existing partnerships. Alabama Possible also assisted Ed with College 101 FAFSA workshops, an effort, Kevi says, that was mutually beneficial.
“Leaving Birmingham,” says Martin, who moves this month to attend training for the Georgia Teaching Fellows – Atlanta Cohort, “I know it’s not for ever. There will always be more proms to chaperon, graduations to attend, basketball games to watch, and late night FAFSA questions to answer. These are the sorts of relationships that will last a lifetime.”
Thank you for your time, partnership, and friendship, Kevi and best of luck. We’ll see you when you return.