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Local Partners Provide Grant Funding for Walker County Stem22 Program

August 11, 2022

Students in Walker County will now have the opportunity to gain greater interest and experience in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers. Bevill State Community College announced a partnership with the Alabama Power Foundation and the Walker Area Community Foundation to offer the STEM22 program to students at Walker County Schools and Jasper City Schools. The STEM22 program will provide a seamless pathway for students to Bevill State Community College for education and training to prepare them for the future workforce.

“Partnerships are vital to any successful initiative. Bevill State is fortunate to have strong, long-standing relationships with the Alabama Power Foundation, Walker County Schools, Jasper City Schools, and the Walker Area Community Foundation. Working together, we are going to be able to provide some outstanding STEM opportunities to students in Walker County. We are appreciative of the support of the Alabama Power Foundation and the Walker Area Community Foundation,” stated Bevill State Community College President Dr. Joel Hagood.

The goal of this project is to provide a ready workforce in the area that will attract businesses and industries in the information technology and robotics/automation fields. Starting in middle school, all students will have the opportunity to be inspired by hands-on, minds-on, STEM learning and the experience of creating something with technology. The program will continue to engage high school students by offering dual-enrollment course selection at Bevill State driven by the pathways the students choose, which includes coding, robotics, engineering, and app development.

“We are proud to support efforts that continue the enhancement of education and workforce development in our communities,” said Alabama Power Western Division Vice President Mark Crews.  “Alabama’s future workforce will rely heavily on technology, and we feel that the STEM22 project will provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and training needed to attract new and existing businesses with jobs in information technology and automation to this area of the state.”

The STEM22 program is being funded by the Alabama Power Foundation and the Walker Area Community Foundation. Both foundations are committed to enriching the educational environment and supporting innovative classroom initiatives to help students identify future career opportunities.

“Jasper and Walker County are uniquely situated to grow alongside our metro areas to the east in Birmingham, to the south in Tuscaloosa, and to the north in Huntsville. We are especially excited to be exposing our children at the youngest age possible to the broadest array of opportunities,” said Walker Area Community Foundation President Paul Kennedy. “The future of Alabama depends on our vision today for our children’s future. This unique partnership is one bold step in the right direction toward that future.”

To date, Bevill State has invested in robotics competitions for several local schools which helped identify the interest in STEM-related careers among students. The STEM22 program will allow the institution to offer enhanced learning opportunities through a more robust curriculum for students. The program will be launched during the 2022-2023 school year in both school systems.

“Our mission is to educate students in a supportive environment that equips them to be successful in today’s society,” said Walker County School System Superintendent Dennis Willingham. “We believe that the STEM22 project will prepare students, increase interest, and offer exposure to become a ready workforce in our community for future careers.”

Dr. Ann Jackson, Jasper City Schools superintendent, added “As educators, it is our responsibility to prepare our students for careers that align with modern industry trends. We are thankful for the partnership of Bevill State Community College, the Alabama Power Foundation, and the Walker Area Community Foundation and recognize their commitment to our students. We truly believe that this program will create more opportunities for our students to be successful.”

“This partnership between Walker Community Area Foundation, Alabama Power Foundation, and Bevill State Community College is fundamental for creating vital resources that will prepare students to enter the workforce following high school,” stated Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed. “The hands-on training programs and additional educational opportunities are limitless with the STEM22 project that will be implemented this year.  From robotics, information technology, engineering, and applications development, this program will launch our students into the future.  Career technical education has always been a top priority for me, so STEM22 is just another rung on the ladder to keep propelling our children forward. I am confident that Dr. Jackson and Dr. Willingham’s commitment to their students will make this program a success for years to come.”