Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin announced last Tuesday that graduates of Birmingham City Schools will have the opportunity to attend college in the state — with no tuition.
What We Know:
- A part of the the city’s Birmingham Promise initiative, it guarantees college tuition for all of the city’s public high school graduates who are accepted to an in-state, public, two or four-year college.
- The initiative also provides high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to receive credit hours for completing apprenticeships at local businesses, while earning a guaranteed minimum wage of $15 per hour.
- “For the last six years I have been researching ways to bring opportunities to Birmingham graduates,” said Woodfin in an exclusive interview to “The Root.” “That’s when I stumbled across the Kalamazoo Promise.”
- In 2005, a small group of anonymous donors began funding the college tuition of graduates in the city of Kalamazoo, Mich. The fund has currently shelled out $117 million in scholarships, sending more than 7,000 students to two and four-year colleges in the state.
- “They got a little lucky,” explained Woodfin. “They had a billionaire who was willing to endow their fund. I wanted to figure out Birmingham’s version of that because there is no billionaire walking around.”
- The city has committed to a $2 million investment in the proposal initially, which is expected to cost between $6 and 8 million dollars per year. The United Way will serve as the fiscal agent for the initiative and hopes to raise $35-to-$50 million to endow the fund.
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
— Randall Woodfin (@randallwoodfin) August 28, 2019
- The initiative will also offer “last dollar” funds to cover the remaining balance after grants and scholarships have been applied to tuitions who attended Birmingham City Schools for all 12 years. Also, students who attended BCS for less than 12 years will receive a proportional amount of funding (for instance, Birmingham Promise would pay half the tuition of a student who graduated from a BCS school after six years of attendance.)
- “I was surprised at how little it was…I thought it was going to be some astronomical number. We’re always in the top 10 most giving cities in America. We give to all types of causes—arts, the zoo, sports, entertainment. In my mind it’s simple—If we can find money to give to all these things, then dammit, we can find money to give to our most vulnerable and our youngest generation” Woodfin stated.
Shoutout to Woodfin for looking out for the next generation!