Bevill State receives two grants to benefit women

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Bevill State Community College has been awarded a $45,000 Raising the Financial Bar for Women grant from the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, while the college’s Thrive Together Walker County partnership with the Jasper Area Family Services Center and the Walker County Board of Education was awarded $50,000 for their third year.

The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham awarded a $45,000 Raising the Financial Bar for Women Community Impact – Families Forward grant to Bevill State. This grant is one of 16 awarded for the 2021 grant cycle focused on accelerating women’s economic opportunity and one of six awarded to a community college for implementing The Women’s Fund’s Student-Parent Success Model.     

This project will provide educational opportunities by reducing or eliminating the financial barrier while providing access to a success coach who supports and encourages each student as they progress.  Scholarships will be provided for eight women who meet the 2 Gen criteria (single mother, 200 percent or below the federal poverty level, and have kids under the age of 19).  Program selection must be from a high wage/high demand job opportunity, including electrical systems, welding, automotive technology, diesel technology, advanced engineering design technology, and advanced manufacturing technology.  

Thrive Together Walker County is a partnership between Bevill State, the Jasper Area Family Services Center, and the county school board. Three counties, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties, received the three-year Thrive Together grants. Thrive Together Walker County was awarded $100,000 in 2019, $75,000 in 2020, and $50,000 for 2021.  

Thrive Together Walker County works with female-led households who are at 200 percent or below the federal poverty level, live in the Walker County area, have a high school diploma or GED, and have kids under the age of 19. Thrive Together Walker County is a combination of physical and virtual connections among service providers.

The physical Hub location is at Jasper Area Family Services Center, along with two satellite entry points available at the Bevill State campuses in Jasper and Sumiton. Clients are assessed and entered the program by the success coach.  

By housing several services within one location and maintaining strong connections with other service providers, Thrive Together Walker County uses comprehensive coaching to ensure the development of mothers and their children and increases their security in housing, education, employment, financial stability, healthcare, and social support.

According to Donna Kilgore, executive director of the Jasper Area Family Services Center, “The growth of our clients is monitored through a common intake form and a shared data system. We aim to work with 35 families per year, breaking cycles of generational poverty and increasing the well-being of the entire Walker County community.”  

“The grants awarded by the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham have allowed Bevill State and the Thrive Together Walker County Collaborators the opportunity to reach out to an underserved population.  Single mothers living in poverty have many barriers preventing them from pursuing an education," stated Maurice Ingle, director of career technical education at Bevill State. "Through Thrive Together Walker County, we have been able to alleviate some of those barriers, allowing these mothers to focus on their education, while the grant for scholarships helps to provide for tuition, fees, and books. "

Ingle continued, "Having the Success Coach gives these mothers an encourager, cheerleader, and a confidant when needed.  I would like to thank the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham for sharing our vision of alleviating poverty in the 2 Gen household. Without a doubt, an education leading to a high wage/high demand career can change lives.” 

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