Month: August 2019

UA Students Provide Financial Education and Assistance to First-Time Homebuyers


By Ashley Cunigan
CCBP Student Program Assistant

Dr. Nicole Prewitt believes in student success and emphasizes the importance of volunteerism in the classroom. As director of Programs and Partnerships for Community Engagement, Prewitt leads a service-learning course for University of Alabama honors students preparing them to assist first-time homebuyers in a financial wellness initiative known as HomeFirst.

The mission of the HomeFirst initiative is to serve Greene, Hale and Tuscaloosa County individuals and families on their path toward first-time homeownership. Students in the course completed financial education modules assessing their goals toward money management and savings. Individuals were asked to discuss their results with one another, and many were concerned with student debt and credit building. With the assistance of HomeFirst, these volunteer financial coaches are trained to offer one-on-one support to their clients developing a broad-based action plan for homebuying.

“I read an email for the Honors College about this course and wanted to give back to the community,” said Alex Lang, a senior accounting major from Milwaukee. Lang explained that there are real problems in America, and the HomeFirst training sessions effectively prepare students to coach individuals preparing to buy a house.

Throughout the session, students connected with community partners willing to provide knowledge and resources for successful homeownership. Residents in smaller communities are often overlooked as potential homebuyers, said Anita Lewis, director of the Greene County Housing Authority. “The housing authority is not for permanent stay,” she said. “My dream is to help these families find homes they can stay in. We have to start educating people when they are young. Once we learn better, we will do better.”

In addition to the HomeFirst training, students engaged in a P.I.E. [Practicing Inclusive Engagement] Workshop with the Crossroads Community Center to increase cultural competency skills. They were asked to evaluate positive intentions and negative impacts regarding specific phrases related to social identity. This workshop fostered a welcoming environment for the participants to share their ideas on how they can be inclusive with first-time homebuyers.

“Our student-led, relationship-based approach supports those on their path toward housing stability while building a community of financially and culturally competent citizens. Students are our greatest asset, and it is my hope that they will learn alongside the community participants,” Prewitt said.


Third in Series of Grant Writing Workshops Holds Closing Ceremony

  • August 21st, 2019
  • in News

Standing with grant-writing specialist David Bauer (center) are, l-r, Dr. Jim McLean, Dr. Nicole Prewitt, Latrisa Pugh, Lynn Armour, and Dr. Samory Pruitt.


By Sophia Xiong
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The 2018–2019 Winning Grants and Sustaining Communities Program, sponsored by the Division of Community Affairs, graduated its third cohort on June 3. The graduates were recognized in a closing ceremony seminar held at Cypress Inn.

Workshops conductor David G. Bauer, internationally acclaimed grants expert and author, said, “I have enjoyed working with the University/community teams in that I know the money the teams receive from these grants will go to improving lives!”

Dr. Jim McLean, Center for Community-Based Partnerships executive director, congratulated The University of Alabama faculty, staff, graduate students, and Tuscaloosa area community members for their work and predicted many would receive the necessary funding to continue their projects.

“A unique aspect of this program,” said McLean, “is that each team is led jointly by a UA faculty or staff member and a community member, and most community participants become strong advocates for the University.”

“In my almost 50 years of experience in applying for and directing grants, I have been to many grant training workshops,” McLean said. “I believe Dave Bauer is by far the best grant trainer, as his approach is based on matching the values of the funder with the values of the grantee.”

In fact, according to reports received by McLean, grants and other funds raised from the first three cohorts total more than $50 million.

Dr. Samory Pruitt, Division of Community Affairs vice president, presented workshop completion certificates to the participants. “The return on investment in these workshops organized by Dr. McLean and conducted by Mr. Bauer is amazing,” he said. “We look forward to seeing the results forthcoming from this group.”

The following participants (followed by their project) received certificates of completion: Jacob Adams and Shannon McCue — Alabama Blues Project; Ashley Waid and Alison Hooper — YMCA on Wheels; Jermaine Mitchell (University of Montevallo), Holly Morgan, Daniella Susnara, Pat Petitt and Mark Harrison — Swim to the Top; Dr. Tracey Hodges, Andrew Maxey, Carol Donovan, Julianne Coleman and Amy Davis — Literacy Bus Project; Kimberly Stowers — Building an Industry for Technology and Human Resource Innovation; Jonnie R. Griffin, Danny Patterson, Slade Prisoc and Chas Shipman — Technology Training (TALA); Jane L. Newman, Nellie Christian, Junfei Lu, Andrew Maxey — Scale Up Summer Programs (Tuscaloosa City Schools); Nicole B. Prewitt, Annettte M. Harris, Lynn Armour, Latrisa Pugh — Saving Lives Academy; Kirsten J. Barnes — Child and Family Services Project; Jonathan Koh and Michael P. Andrews — Tuscaloosa Higher Education Consortium.

Also the following individuals not associated with a project received certificates: Terry Burkle, Larry Deavers, Nona Anchan, Rebecca Watford, Nathaniel Shannon, Emefa Butler, Sally Smith, Chris Spencer, Barja Wilson, Trendle Samuel, Tera Johnson, Rene Jones and Faron Hollinger.