Several years ago, when Christian & Small was working through its strategic visioning process, we looked at several areas where we could focus our charitable giving and volunteer efforts. We knew economic development was important, as was attracting new businesses and residents to the Birmingham area. As we spoke with our clients and various organizations and civic leaders around town, we realized that the foundation of all these efforts was an outstanding educational system.
Without a strong educational system, you can’t attract new businesses, you can’t develop a workforce, and you can’t revitalize your city. We realized that education was at the heart of everything we wanted to see happen. That’s why we’ve chosen to support Teach for America Alabama, Restoration Academy, Holy Family Cristo Rey and Higher Achievement Summer School – these organizations (and others like them) are helping students in Birmingham achieve each and every day things they may never have thought possible.
When we first partnered with Teach for America Alabama, it had just started its work in Birmingham, and we’ve seen tremendous results. One of the Teach for America teachers we supported is now teaching at Restoration Academy, and other teachers have moved into careers in administration and continue to advocate to close the achievement gaps in education.
Our work with Holy Family Cristo Rey and the Higher Achievement Summer School allows us the opportunity to follow students throughout their four years of high school and to see them winning scholarships and embarking on college careers. These are students who, four years ago, weren’t sure they would even graduate from high school. One of the teachers who helped establish the Higher Achievement Summer School program is now a college counselor responsible for helping these students make the transition to higher education. Often these students are the first in their families to attend college, and we get to be a part of their experience through our community involvement efforts.
Everyone in Birmingham benefits when we invest in students, and that’s why we at Christian & Small will continue to do so. We’re so proud of these students and educators, and we are committed to continuing the conversations happening all across our region about improving education and supporting organizations and individuals who improve the lives and outcomes of our students.