Children Are Successful Along
the Education Pipeline

DCF 1.0

Birmingham Education Foundation & Yes We Can! Birmingham

Can a grassroots campaign engage citizens across Birmingham to create a new vision of the future for Birmingham’s children and its school system?  Yes We Can! Birmingham is the resounding answer, as well as the name of an initiative of the Community Foundation that successfully led to the creation of the Birmingham Education Foundation.

Because we recognize the vital importance of Birmingham’s school system, we engaged school officials, community leaders and hundreds of others in a grassroots initiative called Yes We Can! Birmingham. Starting in 2007, we used a nationally recognized model to give citizens a voice in the process and to create a Community Agreement on what matters and how we can achieve it together. (Here’s the full Community Agreement in PDF form: YWCB COMMUNITY AGREEMENT 092408)

A series of more than 100 Community Conversations, held in libraries, churches and community centers across Birmingham, gathered input from 2,000 people about what they wanted for their schools and for all our children. The resulting Community Agreement was accepted by the Birmingham Board of Education in 2008 and became part of the baord’s strategic plan in the spring of 2009.

We pledged to all the participants in Yes We Can! Birmingham that we would create a separate nonprofit organization to support Birmingham City Schools and to keep citizens engaged in this important work. That organization is the Birmingham Education Foundation, created in 2009, supported by a $260,000 multi-year startup grant from the Community Foundation and headed by executive director Dr. Michael Froning.

Current grant: The Community Foundation began an additional strategic partnership with Ed in 2011 with a grant of $100,000 to address the strategy of increasing the high school graduation rate (within the Result: Children are successful along the education pipeline.). This pilot project is based on the What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guide on Dropout Prevention from the Institute of Educational Sciences.

BEF update: Through the Campaign for Ed, BEF reached out and reengaged with the community through a series of meetings in each of the sectors that participated in the original Community Conversations. You can find out more about  on-going efforts to strengthen Birmingham City Schools on the Ed website. If you already have an Advised Fund, contact Kathryn Corey to find out more about how you can give.