UAB students to run new tornado relief forgivable-loan program

Students can become social entrepreneurs in support of their community thanks to several anonymous gifts totaling $250,000.

University of Alabama at Birmingham students will have a unique opportunity to be social entrepreneurs in support of their community in the wake of disaster, thanks to the generosity of several anonymous donors.

tornadoreliefThe UAB Tornado Relief Forgivable Loan Program, established through some $250,000 in gifts made to the UAB Educational Foundation, will make small loans (in most cases, in amounts of up to $1,000 each) to people affected by the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. The loans will be interest-free and due in one year, but can be forgiven completely or in part on their payback date if ongoing need is demonstrated. The program will be administered jointly by the foundation and the UAB School of Business.

Students have been recruited to participate in the program from across UAB, including the School of Business Honors Program, University Honors Program, Global and Community Leadership Honors Program, Early Medical Professional Schools Acceptance Program and Experiential Scholars Program. Participants will be given credit toward academic requirements at the discretion of these programs.

The students will identify prospective borrowers by working with the community’s collaborative Long Term Recovery Committee, established by more than 40 human service agencies in the greater Birmingham area, including the UAB Benevolent Fund, said UAB School of Business Dean David R. Klock, Ph.D. The purpose of the committee is to address the longer-term needs of those affected by the tornadoes—needs that often become apparent after people have obtained assistance from first responders. The committee is beginning its work immediately.

Students will work with both Regions Bank and the law firm of Balch & Bingham LLP to administer the program. Regions will assist in the delivery of loan proceeds, and Balch & Bingham will provide the forms of loan documentation.

“We believe that this program is entrepreneurial because it addresses a problem in an innovative way,” Klock said. “UAB can be an engine of innovation in a wide variety of fields, including by addressing the social needs in our community. 

“This program exposes our students to the values of respect for the dignity of disaster victims, empathy for their financial situations, and the importance of collaborative servant leadership, all in a setting that is outside the traditional classroom,” he said.

Tornado victims who wish to make an application to borrow money under the program should contact any of the Birmingham area human services agencies, most of which are participating in the Long Term Recovery Committee. UAB students and employees may contact the UAB Benevolent Fund at 205-934-1581 or

Anyone who would like to donate to the UAB Tornado Relief Forgivable Loan Program can do so online at or mail a check payable to the UAB Educational Foundation to 1717 11th Ave. South, Suite 103A, Birmingham, AL 35205. Foundation Treasurer Jodie Mote said that in keeping with the original donor’s wishes, amounts repaid by borrowers and/or any remaining funds as of May 1, 2012, will be used in support of the students of the UAB School of Business.