Category: News

United Way of Central Alabama awarded grant for improving reading in Birmingham schools

BIRMINGHAM — United Way of Central Alabama will receive $150,000 to align the community around a plan for improving reading proficiency for Birmingham City Schools elementary students.

Mayor Randall Woodfin, Superintendent Lisa Herring, and UWCA President Drew Langloh will appear together to announce this initiative. UWCA applied for the grant using the strengths of the Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama and incorporating key elements from the “The Woodfin Way” transition plan and the priorities that the Birmingham City Schools have identified. This grant commences an intensive six-month effort to streamline and align all stakeholders behind one plan to improve student-centered literacy efforts.

“We know that by aligning all of the community’s resources around an actionable plan that the sky is the limit for children, not only in Birmingham, but throughout Central Alabama,” Langloh said. “The Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama convenes partners to make real change happen in Central Alabama, and this grant helps accelerate that change.”

The grant is an award from the Together for Students initiative, created by three national, education-focused nonprofit organizations — the Coalition for Community Schools, Communities In Schools, and StriveTogether — with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Ford Foundation.

Birmingham was one of just ten communities nationwide selected for this grant. Other key local partners in this grant include Birmingham Education Foundation, Norwood Resource Center, and Alabama Possible.

JefCoEd seniors earn more than $62 million in scholarships

By Gary Lloyd

Educators in Jefferson County, Alabama, have more than sixty-two million reasons to smile.

The graduating seniors from the Class of 2018 from the fourteen Jefferson County Schools high schools earned a total of $62,257,917.50 in scholarships.

That’s enough money to buy sixty-two Manhattan apartments. Or pay LeBron James’ salary for two NBA seasons. But most importantly, it’s enough to impact dozens of lifetimes for these students.

The Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School accounted for more than $13 million in scholarships. Minor High School’s seniors earned more than $8 million, while McAdory earned more than $6 million. Gardendale High finished with a touch more than $4 million in scholarships. Finishing with more than $3 million in scholarship money each were Center Point, Clay-Chalkville, Fultondale, Pinson Valley, and Shades Valley high schools. Corner, Hueytown, Mortimer Jordan, Oak Grove, and Pleasant Grove high schools all earned more than $2 million each in scholarships.

See the exact numbers here.

A video tribute to these schools and students is posted on the district’s website, and it ends with writer Henry David Thoreau’s quote: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Those words are right on the money.

Two positive stories from Birmingham

By Gary Lloyd

There are positive stories happening in Birmingham.

Two recently stand out.

A Tarrant High School graduate, Corey Patrick, had been taking a transit bus to school all year, getting up as early as 4:30 a.m. to make the 5:41 a.m. bus. He took the bus to his graduation this month, wearing his cap and gown. Determination. Read about that here.

Radio host Rickey Smiley gave Patrick his own car Friday morning. A graduation party is planned for Patrick on June 23 in Birmingham.

How awesome is that?

In other Birmingham-area uplifting news, a 4-year-old is acting as a superhero by feeding the homeless. His catchphrase? “Don’t forget to show love.” You can read more about Austin Perine and donate to his cause here.

And people think only negative news comes out of Birmingham.


Blood drive potentially saves 225 lives

Local blood donors saved as many as 225 lives by giving blood during Baldwin EMC’s Spring Into Action drive March 15 in Orange Beach and April 26 in Bay Minette.

The staff from LifeSouth Community Blood Center collected a total of 75 pints of blood, each of which can benefit as many as three people.

The co-op elected to divide the drive between two dates and their two district offices this year in an effort to reach members from the southern and northern parts of their service territory.

“We traditionally host Spring Into Action at our headquarters in Summerdale, which is our most centrally located office,” says Mark Ingram, Baldwin EMC’s vice president of corporate services and public relations. “However, Summerdale is still a bit of a drive from Bay Minette or the beach. Hosting it at our district offices gave our members and residents in those areas an opportunity to donate without distance being a factor.”

In addition to blood donations, non-perishable food was also collected for local distribution.

Ingram says the Spring Into Action drive is a part of Baldwin EMC’s vision to be community involved.

“As a member-owned cooperative, we’re called to do much more for our community than just provide electricity. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for those we serve, and events like this are one of the ways we can do that.”

Community Heroes Week returns to Atlanta Braves in August

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves Foundation and FOX Sports South have announced the return of Community Heroes Week, the inspiring, weeklong community recognition initiative.

The third annual Community Heroes Week will take place Aug. 13-17, when the Braves host the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies. Nominations are now being accepted and can be submitted on

The Braves are seeking nominations for individuals who have made a lasting and positive impact on their community in Braves Country. A panel of Braves and FOX Sports South staff will select five individuals to be named the 2018 Community Heroes Week Honorees. Nominations will be accepted until Friday, June 15.

“We have been inspired and grateful by these wonderful people in our community over the last few years,” said Atlanta Braves Director of Community Affairs Ericka Newsome. “We are delighted to continue to recognize people in Braves Country who go above and beyond to help others and make our community a better place.”

On each day of Community Heroes Week, the Braves will recognize a different Honoree by surprising them with a day of VIP treatment. From the surprise of meeting Braves players and FOX Sports South on-air talent to a game at SunTrust Park that evening, every Honoree’s day will be filled with unforgettable elements. Each Honoree’s story will also be shared during the game and in the FOX Sports South telecast, to celebrate the individual and bring awareness to their cause or organization.

“We look forward to again showcasing Honorees from Community Heroes Week during our Braves telecasts on FOX Sports South and FOX Sports Southeast,” said Rolanda Gaines, Director of Marketing and Communications for FOX Sports South. “This is fun and compelling initiative that allows us to shine a light on everyday people.”

For more information, visit

Alabama governor signs bills supporting military

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed four bills Monday supporting veterans and the military. The governor signed House Bills 58, 83, 88 and 92. Earlier this month at Maxwell Air Force Base, the governor also signed into law House Bill 388, the Military Family Jobs Opportunity Act.

“Throughout my career, I have advocated for our service men and women, and I will continue to do all I can as governor to offer my support to those who have given us so much,” Ivey said. “Alabamians are steadfast in their support for the military, and I am proud to strengthen Alabama’s bond with the military through these five bills I have signed into law.”

HB 58, known as the “Parks for Patriots Bill,” grants free admission to active or retired service members, who are Alabama residents, to state parks operated by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. An appropriate active or retired military identification card, a driver’s license with a military veteran designation, a valid Department of Defense Form or any other documentation prescribed by law or administrative rule must be shown to obtain free admission. In November 2017, Ivey announced that entry into Alabama’s State Parks was free for all veterans. At that time, Rep. Dickie Drake said he planned to file a bill in the 2018 Regular Session that would permanently codify Ivey’s Parks for Patriots plan into law.

“I am so proud to have sponsored a bill that allows veterans and current military to have free admission to Alabama State Parks,” Drake said. “With Memorial Day close at hand, this should be something nice for our Veterans and our military who have given so much and make so many sacrifices; we can never fully repay them.”

Ivey also signed HB 83, the Veterans Employment Act, and HB 88, which gives preference in competitive bids on state government contracts to businesses owned by veterans. Drake also sponsored HB 88. The Veterans Employment Act, sponsored by Rep. Connie Rowe, gives a tax credit to small businesses that hire unemployed veterans.

“This was an opportunity to help both our veterans and small businesses at the same time. Incentivizing the hiring and retention of our military veterans by Alabama small businesses allows us to acknowledge their service and provide them with more job opportunities,” Rowe said. “Small businesses will benefit, not only by qualifying for the tax incentive, but also by bringing employees into their businesses with the admirable traits and skills acquired during military training and service. It’s a win-win piece of legislation.”

HB 92, sponsored by Rep. Barry Moore, allows a person who meets the military service and award requirements to be issued a windshield placard displaying an appropriate military honor or veteran status. The placard will permit parking in designated military parking places. The bill makes it unlawful for a person to park in these designated military places without distinctive placard.

“In our great nation, we recognize that freedom is a right given by God, but we also know that right is protected by those who fight for it,” Ivey said. “I am grateful for the hard work and support of the Alabama Legislature for passing strong legislation supporting our service men and women.”

Earlier this month at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ivey signed into law HB 388, the Military Family Jobs Opportunity Act. Through this bill, professional licensing boards are required to issue licenses and certificates to military spouses who hold licenses and certificates from other states. In the case a state has lesser requirements, the state will issue temporary licenses. Sen. Gerald Dial and Rep. Thad McClammy were the sponsors of this legislation.