National Conference of Mayors grant supports local workforce development

The City of Birmingham has secured a $75,000 grant from the National Conference of Mayors to support the UAB-led Innovate Birmingham workforce development initiative.

innovate bham gradGraduate Rhianna O'ReillyThe City of Birmingham has secured a $75,000 grant from the National Conference of Mayors to help Innovate Birmingham, a project led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, continue to create opportunities for local young adults.

The Innovate Birmingham Regional Workforce Partnership comprises 15 community organizations and more than 30 employer partners. The program is meeting workforce demand in information technology with sustainable, demand-driven education, training and employment opportunities for area young adults who are disconnected from the labor market.

“Through UAB’s leadership and the efforts of many partner organizations, the workforce development project has experienced great early success,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “Education is the great equalizer and the surest cure to escaping poverty, and this grant provides us an opportunity to give young people a shot to learn the skills they need to obtain a good-paying job in technology.”

This newest grant, which represents another chapter in the strong partnership and collaboration between UAB and the City of Birmingham, will expand the program’s reach by providing key support services so that students can continue learning and create new pathways into jobs with our employer partners.

“UAB is happy to lead this effort because community impact through offering world-class education is a key mission pillar for us,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “We are excited to share the city’s commitment to train young people.”

Josh Carpenter is the director of External Affairs in the UAB Office of the President and project lead for the America’s Promise Grant at UAB.

“We recently graduated the first class of students in the workforce program, and all of them earned new certifications and nearly all obtained new jobs, and the second set of students is hard at work to follow in their footsteps,” Carpenter said. “Each dollar from the National Conference of Mayors grant will continue to create education opportunities for young people in our community to train for 21st-century careers in our community and state.”

Jamaris Buford is learning how to be a software developer and says the opportunity has helped him grow as a person. 

“In developing, you learn to break problems down and look at them in steps, just like in life,” Buford said. “I have had good opportunities in the past, but nothing ever like this. I learned to set smart goals and stay focused. My next goal is to apply everything the Innovate Birmingham instructors and success coach have taught me. They have given me the confidence and skills I need to be successful."

Madison Perryman-Hill is another program participant.

“Innovate Birmingham has allowed me to further my education and learn to adapt to the new wave of technology,” Perryman-Hill said. “Being a part of this program has also helped me to sharpen and solidify my professional skills and attitude, as well as make new relationships. Collectively, we hope to become members of Birmingham’s workforce. This program allows for many young people in the area to do the same.”