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Vision Days Broaden College Insights for High School Students

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

In order to be successful in college, students should begin thinking about their higher education options early in high school. This is the message behind “Vision Days,” sponsored by the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), a unit within The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs.

The idea came out of the annual New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, sponsored annually by CCBP, as well as from an institutional effort to reach more in-state students from traditionally underserved areas.

Ashley Meadows, who teaches English at Thomasville High School, said the opportunity to bring dozens of ninth graders to UA’s campus was a great experience.

“My ninth graders were saying they needed to know more about this stuff now because by the time they are juniors or seniors it is too late,” said Meadows, now in her 12th year of teaching. “It’s good for them to know that the classes they are taking now, those grades are cumulative and will affect scholarships down the line, and affect them just getting into college.”

Meadows, who brought students Oct. 23 and Oct. 25 to visit UA’s engineering, nursing, business, arts and sciences, education, social work, human environmental sciences and communication programs, said the exposure alone was invaluable.

“It’s so good for these young kids to be able to see the world outside of our small town and classroom,” said Meadows, who brought 30 students on both days.

Students from both rural and urban high schools attended Vision Days. They not only learned about different majors offered at the University, but also about the requirements for admission and scholarship opportunities.

“I wanted to learn more about what I need to do to get into college and what kinds of clubs they have at college,” said Henry Smoot, a ninth grader from Woodlawn High School, a four-year magnet school in Birmingham. Smoot said he dreamed about “owning my own business and being a mechanical engineer. I feel better now that I see other students from the school I come from that made it, and it makes me feel like I can make it.”

Keontay Madison said he attended the tour to find out about scholarships and academic requirements. “I learned that if you want a scholarship you need at least a 3.5 GPA and I learned about things you can do to qualify” said Madison, who was visiting UA for the first time. “You need to have enough time to prepare; 12th grade goes by fast. Now I have four years to think about what I want to do.”

Vision Days targets high school students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit campus with their parents or guardians “to give them an idea of what their options are early in their high school careers so that they are not scrambling their junior and senior years to fix their grades or try to get into college,” said Daniela Susnara, a kinesiology doctoral graduate assistant in the College of Education. “We’re trying to put college at the front of their minds so they can be proactive their freshman and sophomore years and also get them to set some early goals.”

In addition to students from Woodlawn and Thomasville, students from Amelia Love Johnson, Berry, Greene County, Sumter Central, Carver, Greensboro, Wenonah and Pickens County High Schools also attended Vision Days on Oct. 16, 18, 23, and 25.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Meeting | September 5, 2018

In attendance: Carol Agomo, Karyn Bowen, Jackie Brodsky, Dee Cook, George Daniels, Jan Findlay, Kimberly Gibson, Andrew Goodliffe, Fran Hardin-Fanning, Elizabeth Hartley, Tracey Hodges, Diane Kennedy-Jackson, Renee Key, Billy Kirkpatrick, Joon Yea Lee, Amanda Lightsey, James E. McLean, Jacqueline V. Morgan, Rob Morgan, Ed Mullins, Jane Newman, Nicole Prewitt, Samory Pruitt, Sarah Saeed, Luna Yang

Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, welcomed attendees and called the meeting to order at 11:43 a.m.

Amanda Lightsey, executive director of Tuscaloosa’s One Place, reported that they have moved from Alberta City and are now located at 810 27th Avenue, behind the Arts & Autism building. She believes this will be a great move for them considering the non-profit growth in the downtown area, and shared that both Five Horizons Health Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters have recently expanded their space and services in this area.

Lightsey said that she, along with Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick (CEO, Five Horizons Health Services) and Dr. George Daniels (assistant dean, College of Communication and Information Sciences) are working together on a project to create a directory of institutions in Tuscaloosa that offer service-learning opportunities. She observed that there seems to be a disconnect between opportunities and agencies, and that the purpose of this directory is to help link University of Alabama professors and their students with these types of opportunities that are available in the community.

Lightsey indicated that they are also focusing on the area of research and evaluation because more and more state and federal grant opportunities require evaluation. She explained that finding an evaluator is often a challenge for non-profits, and their hope is that bridging the gap between agencies needing evaluators for their grants and those who might offer this assistance will make the process much easier moving forward.

Finally, Lightsey reported that Tuscaloosa’s One Place was recently named the Homer Butler United Way Agency of the Year. Learn more at

On behalf of Jeff Gray, who was unable to attend the meeting, Pruitt announced that Gray recently received a National Science Foundation grant for the purpose of targeting African-American girls in the state of Alabama in an effort to get them interested in pursuing science-related fields and careers. Gray will provide a report to the Council at a later date.

Pruitt invited those present to share with his office their research interests, as well as opportunities they may be seeking to work with others. Additionally, those new to the Council were invited to share at this meeting.

Anne Levy, UA Theatre and Dance, recently relocated from New York City, where she has done a lot of work with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). She is interested in getting the word out so that anyone who would like to use the power of the arts and theatre to advance their programs might get in touch with her about ways their programs and the Department of Theatre and Dance might partner.

Fran Hardin-Fanning, Capstone College of Nursing, shared that her work is going into areas in Appalachia to help those living there learn to eat healthy with the limited resources of the area. She and Jan Findlay, also of the Capstone College of Nursing, work together.

Jackie Brodsky, who works in UA’s School of Library and Information Studies, as well as at Wayne State University, reported on her activities as a community partner. She is working on an art program through DCH Cancer Center that provides a way for cancer survivors to stay in touch with the Center and stay up to date with current cancer prevention news. She hopes to expand this program into other counties the Center serves in an effort to bring more access to health information available through the Center to additional counties and spaces. They are also working to get their library online to help with resources. Additionally, they are partnering with the UA Art Department and are looking for another school — perhaps nursing or social work — to partner with on these efforts.

Pruitt then shared a brief summary of the New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, which began in 2017. He said that when we began these tours, the intent was not to load buses and take people with all the answers to the people who need help. Instead, we take some of our faculty members to hear about the things these people are doing in their communities — things of which they are very proud — to learn how those things might align with the research interests of faculty.

James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), shared an evaluation of the 2018 tour based on survey results including input from faculty, students, staff and community members who participated. Survey questions included three qualitative and three quantitative questions.

James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), shared an evaluation of the 2018 tour based on survey results including input from faculty, students, staff and community members who participated. Survey questions included three qualitative and three quantitative questions.

McLean said participants were surveyed during each day of the tour to get feedback about each tour date. A comparison of the results of the three groups of people — one for each day of the tour — showed no appreciable differences.

The largest participant group was faculty, followed by students and then staff. One hundred percent of the participants rated their experience as a 7 or higher on a 10-point scale, with more than 50 percent giving it a perfect 10. All participants indicated they would recommend future tours to others with 64 percent rating this a 10 on a 10-point scale. The most common response to suggestions for improving the tour was to increase the time for networking among tour participants and panelists.

Community member panelists and site coordinators were also surveyed to parallel the tour members’ surveys. Of the 48 community members participating over the nine sites visited, 17 responded. This was a 35.5 percent response rate, which McLean said is typical for these types of surveys. He said that all nine sites visited were represented in the responses. While all in this group were satisfied with their participation, 90 percent rated their participation as a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. All indicated they are likely to participate again in the future. Responses for improving the tour next year mirrored those of tour participants, with requests for additional time for interaction, as well as representation from more disciplines, with an emphasis on business.

Accordingly, going forward, we will seek ways to find more time for panelists and tour members to spend time together so that they can better connect and discuss opportunities to work together. Additionally, we will seek to recruit participants from more disciplines, especially those with business-related interests, to participate in future tours.

Dr. Tracey Hodges, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction, who just completed her first year at UA, participated in the faculty tour this spring based on a recommendation. She said she enjoyed the tour because of the community members, business professionals and education professionals who participated. She also appreciated having the schedule of panelists ahead of time, which allowed her to look up people she might be interested in talking with prior to the tour. As a result, she made a connection with a principal from Hale County regarding literacy needs. She now spends time at Hale County Middle School three to five times each month, working with the teaching professionals there and conducting research. It is a positive relationship that benefits, students, teachers and her own research.

Pruitt indicated that the Division  plans to document and circulate information about these types of connections made as a result of tour participation. Additionally, he said we will distribute the annual report on these tours in the future.

Pruitt then reported on the progress of the planned Student Community Engagement Center, which will be located in Capital Hall on the Bryce Campus. Out of a desire to support the work of our students, faculty and community partners involved in community-engaged scholarship, we looked at national trends and realized that not one of the institutions researched had a designated space for students in different disciplines to work together in the same space at the same time around community-engaged scholarship. The concept for the Center was a result of that realization, combined with input from students and other stakeholders.

Featuring portable design that will create flexibility moving forward, the Center will open with six offices for student organizations that have a research/service mission based on their disciplines, with future expansion planned to create up to a total of 10 office spaces. Student groups known to have an interest in being a part of this based on their activities were contacted initially. The bids were opened in August and the funding is in place for the first phase, which will involve renovation of existing space at a cost of just under $800,000. The goal is for the renovation to be completed in time to open the Center at the start of the spring 2019 semester. In the interim, the selected student groups, along with the colleges of which they are a part, have been asked to begin working together while the renovation takes place. Several of the entities involved include Engineers Without Borders, groups from Social Work, the College of Education, Human Environmental Sciences and the College of Community Health Sciences, as well as the student chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, which created an informative presentation about the new space and its use. They also came up with the tagline: More Than Just A Space.

Carol Agomo, director of Community and Administrative Affairs in the Division of Community Affairs, expanded on how the tagline was formed, sharing that we got here through a process of bringing students together to collaborate, but that when we brought in departments, it opened up additional opportunities. The planned use of the space is consistent with the UA Strategic Plan, including developing social consciousness, fostering public outreach and service and engaging in community outreach. This access will help the way the student groups work and give them an opportunity to strengthen their community relationships. It will definitely be more than just a space!

A question was raised about parking concerns. Pruitt stated there will be a bus stop in front of Capital Hall, which should help ease parking issues in the short term. As expansion on the Bryce Campus continues, there will eventually be additional parking available on the opposite side of the building. He also said that there are no seating areas in front of Capital Hall at this time, but that we may look at ways to add seating to these areas in the future. Additionally, there is a courtyard located in the center of the building, and we will likely do something with that space that benefits the new Center, as well as others housed in the building.

On behalf of Dr. Holly Morgan (CCBP) and Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, (College of Education) Pruitt reported on a grant application submitted by them for the Alabama Statewide Family Engagement Center. Morgan and Wilson work together on the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA), and receipt of this grant would allow that existing model to grow to other areas throughout the state. This is a $6 million grant over five years, and each state is allowed to submit only one application. Our grant application has the State of Alabama’s support. A brief abstract of the grant was shared via a handout at this meeting, and an update from Morgan and Wilson will take place at a future Council meeting.

Dr. James E. McLean reported that we completed the second round of the Winning Grants and Sustainability Program in June, and that the third round (2018–2019) began in August. The third round includes 10 teams with 50 people total and a variety of interesting projects. The program continues to be in great demand, likely because of the success already logged, which totals somewhere between $40 and $50 million obtained in grants, beginning with the first class in 2016–2017. Round 4 is being planned for 2019–2020. In addition to the successful grant funding already obtained, the program is helping people learn to write more competitive grants — a skill that will continue to reap benefits for many years to come. McLean views what we are doing as an incubator, and sees our successes as being when projects and programs get out on their own and become self-sustaining.

Sarah Saeed, program coordinator at CCBP, gave a Fulbright and Global Café/Language Partners Program update on behalf of Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement at CCBP. Saeed shared that there are around 60 Fulbright applications in the works for this coming year and that UA looks to be listed again among the top Fulbright producing institutions in the nation. A handout about students who won Fulbright awards for the 2018–2019 academic year was shared with meeting attendees. Saeed also informed the group that Hawk and some of her students will be attending the national Fulbright conference in Mexico this fall.

Schedule cards for the fall 2018 semester of Global Café were also distributed (also available online at Saeed explained that through Global Café, UA students and volunteers assist international students with their speaking and listening to aid in English language learning, as well as to learn more about American culture. Additionally, the process is reversed and we utilize international students and visiting scholars to help UA students learning another language or preparing to travel overseas. Five students have already been paired this way for the current semester, and we have also paired 64 language partners with volunteers and CCBP student assistants. In addition to our student staff, we have five community partners and 30 student volunteers who are making a big difference in the lives of international students, and particularly in the lives of visiting scholars who, because they do not attend classes, may receive their only one-on-one American contact through Global Café.

Daniels and UA PhD candidate Joon Yea Lee shared a brief overview of a workshop they will present at the upcoming Engagement Scholarship Consortium Annual Conference in Minneapolis. For this project, which discusses the importance of using video to tell stories, they analyzed and rated the content of the Peter McGrath Awards videos. Each McGrath winner is given two minutes to tell their story via video. The video they played from Oklahoma State University was shared as an example of a production that effectively captured the institution’s brand, its community partner involvement, its activities with partner participation and its inclusion of institutional leadership — all elements that made for a strong presentation. At the conference, they will present a workshop designed to help others learn how to plan and use video to effectively tell the stories of their partnerships.

Pruitt gave a brief update on the upcoming ESC Conference, sharing a handout containing information about the UA delegation to Minneapolis and noting that UA always has one of the largest conference delegations. He said the Division of Community Affairs, the College of Continuing Studies and the Office of Academic Affairs work together to help provide funding to those in need of it to attend. The internal cutoff for conference registration was Friday, Sept. 7. Pruitt also shared that this year’s conference will feature a faculty panel in addition to the existing journal editors’ panel.

Pruitt, on behalf of Morgan, gave information about Vision Days, a newly created high school tours and college readiness program. Noting that often, when we bring high school students to campus, it will be multiple students from a single school, who may or may not all be interested in the topics presented. The Vision Days approach brings students from different schools on different days based on individual interests, providing them with a way to learn more about their areas of interest, as well as to meet other students with similar interests. Because we are competing for in-state students now, we believe this will be a way to aid the University in that effort. A schedule of the tours was provided to the Council.

Attendees were encouraged to save the date for future Council meetings, which are scheduled as follows:

  • Wednesday, November 17, 2018, 11:30 a.m. — Bryant Conference Center, Rast Room B
  • Thursday, February 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Bryant Conference Center, Rast Room B
  • Thursday, March 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Ferguson Center, Room 3104

The 13th Annual Excellence Awards and SCOPE Showcase are scheduled for:

  • Friday, April 12, 2019 — Bryant Conference Center, Sellers Auditorium

Visit for future Council updates.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.

The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engaged Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.

Plum Grove Baptist Church Hosts Healthy Eating Expo

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

Plum Grove Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa hosted more than 200 people for a Healthy Eating Expo on Aug. 11. The project grew out of the church’s ongoing efforts to educate its members on health disparities and making healthy choices.

“It’s indescribable that what began as a very embryonic effort to be informative to church members has morphed into serious and really impactful community outreach,” said the Rev. Tyshawn Gardner, pastor of Plum Grove.

“What’s so phenomenal,” he said, “when it started, we were just promoting information within the congregation and now it has grown beyond the four walls of the church to include the community. But not just the community where we are. There is a very diverse group here — both participating and being a part of it. That’s what’s amazing.”

Gardner is referring to his church’s decision to become a founding partner in what today is The University of Alabama’s Saving Lives Initiative, the brainchild of UA Community Affairs Vice President Dr. Samory T. Pruitt. The initiative began in 2012 and is implemented by the Division’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP).

Saving Lives works to reduce health disparities by encouraging churches to discuss health issues while providing educational resources and coaching to help them incorporate health information into their existing outreach and spiritual activities.

“For years we have had a foothold in the community. That’s really our mission and our vision, to impact and empower our community and our people,” Gardner said. “So, this is a very needed and necessary extension of what we were already doing.”

In the process, Saving Lives has been transformed into an effective tool for sharing information to spread knowledge, truly saving lives, according to UA and community leaders.

Under Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, CCBP’s director of programs and partnerships for Community Engagement, Saving Lives has evolved from providing health-related curricula for Bible study groups to the creation of a leadership academy, which empowers members in small groups to initiate new programs within their church with the purpose of training members to take responsibility for their own health and their families’ health.

During the free Saturday event at Plum Grove, more than two dozen vendors performed live cooking demonstrations, provided healthy recipes and samples, and conducted an aerobics training demonstration. A registered dietitian and physician were also present to provide advice. There was also a kids’ kitchen and prayer booth and prayer wall.

The Expo was coordinated by Plum Grove members Javelin Lewis and Shaunta Sanders, who serve as Saving Lives advocates.

“I like being able to help people,” said Lewis, explaining why she decided to participate in the advocate training program. Then to see these efforts result in “people actually putting forth some effort and watch what they eat … was exciting,” she said.

Lewis said planning the event allowed the advocates to combine the three Saving Lives components — physical activity, health information, and nutrition — with the church’s mission of spiritual outreach.

“This is an opportunity to be able to come in and taste the healthy food and see that it does taste good,” said Lewis, referring to opportunities for attendees to try new tastes like hummus and yogurt parfait, along with items from Tuscaloosa’s Juice Bar and Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe. “It doesn’t have to be bland and you don’t have to use fat back, lard and ham hock. You don’t have to put all that salt in it.”

She said the church hoped to expose the community to healthy options, while simultaneously providing health care information related to diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, HIV and more.

“There are so many alternatives to frying and to seasoning and the food is good and healthy for you,” Lewis said.

Team member Sanders is a nursing student at the University of West Alabama. She said what she learned during the Expo supported what she is learning in nursing school and helped her develop a connection between health and care giving.

“I’m going to school to be a nurse and I’m going to be saving lives,” Sanders said. “This helps bring God and my faith into my work.”

Sanders said she knew the Expo would draw a crowd to the church. “I thought we might have too many people. Everybody loves to eat,” she said.

Gardner said he is proud to have his church participate in such a dynamic initiative.

“To see it on this level is nothing short of amazing and we are very grateful to God and to The University of Alabama and people like Dr. Pruitt.” He said. “Sometimes when things do not flourish as soon as you would like, there is a temptation to abandon it to try something else. So, I want to just thank the churches involved, our church and Dr. Pruitt’s office for their stick-to-it-ness. As you can see and hear we are off and running.”

Saving Lives is under the direction of Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs. To learn more about the program, email or call 205-348-9819.

Saving Lives Leadership Academy, Mount Pilgrim Church Co-Sponsor Program on Advance Directives, Wills, Hospice Care

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

Too often families leave no written instructions concerning the final wishes of their loved ones because they do not want to talk about chronic illness, dying or death.

Members of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa recognized this problem and hosted “Let’s Talk” on Saturday, Aug. 11 to provide information to the congregation concerning advance directives, wills and hospice care.

The program combined a nutritious breakfast with health information and physical activity, all part of the church’s participation in The University of Alabama’s Saving Lives Leadership Academy, sponsored by the Division of Community Affairs and its Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), which partners with churches to educate the community regarding critical health issues.

“I like this project because the topic of advance directives and planning is not always discussed within churches,” said Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, CCBP director of programs and partnerships. “This team decided to start the conversation with families about planning, about hospice care, and about making decisions that can impact the entire family.”

Birmingham attorney Kelvin W. Howard discussed three legal documents everyone should have: a will, a power of attorney and a medical directive. He explained that when tragedy strikes and a person is on life-support, the family faces tough decisions.

“Nobody wants to make the decision to say I’m going to pull the plug on mama today,” Howard said. “I encourage my clients to take that pressure off your family and love your family enough to sit down and write down your wishes.”

He advised people to seek legal advice, but said putting things down on paper is a good start. However, he told them to choose the person they could trust the most when deciding who to give authority to make medical and financial decisions in their stead or absence.

“The next time you do this, invite a friend. They need to hear this. They need to know this,” Howard said, explaining that he is consulted regularly about advance directives and powers of attorney after the person is incapacitated and there is nothing legally he can do to help. “I’m grateful that you all are creating an environment to change a mindset.”

The program organizers explained that the talk doesn’t have to happen over one evening, but people need to be open and honest about their wishes concerning cremation or burial, as well as how they feel about resuscitation and depending on machines to live.

“Attorney Howard has given us some good instructions we need to act on,” said Mount Pilgrim Pastor Frank Kennedy Sr., who said he planned to ask Howard to return to discuss these topics with the entire congregation.

Another topic was hospice care. Years ago when people talked about hospice care, said Mount Pilgrim Saving Lives advocate Valerie Cleveland, who helped organize the event, “People thought someone was getting ready to die. But hospice services have changed. We need to let people know that these services are available.”

Hospice services have expanded to include helping those who suffer from illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Cleveland said, adding that the service should be viewed as additional support for the family as well as other members of their medical team.  Additionally, she said many people do not know that hospice provides medical supplies, which the family may be paying for out-of-pocket.

“You can have hospice services in a hospice facility, you can have services in your home, and you can have hospice services in the nursing home,” said Cleveland, a nursing home social worker. “It’s more eyes on that resident, and it is a big support for the family because hospice will be with that family for months after someone dies. They have chaplains; they have social workers; they have nurses.”

Saving Lives is under the direction of Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs. To learn more about the program, email or call 205-348-9819.

Saving Lives Academy, Capstone College of Nursing Collaborate to Bring Health Message to People of Color at Benville Baptist Church in Cottondale

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Because the medication of tomorrow will be tailored to individuals, it is important that minorities take part in research so that advancements can include drugs that are unique to people of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and geographical locations. This is the message health providers gave to attendees at an All of Us Research Program event at Benville Missionary Baptist Church in Cottondale on July 7.

During a presentation on precision medicine, attendees were encouraged to give research participation a try.

“Precision medicine is an emerging approach to fighting disease-specific problems. It’s a radical shift from what we are doing now,” said Colleen Leners, director of policy at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in Washington, D.C. “We are looking not only at your lifestyle, but your environment, as well as your genetic profile.”

Leners came to Alabama to help people of color understand there must never be another study like the unethical Tuskegee Syphilis Study conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service on African-American men during five decades beginning in 1932.

Instead, she explained, unless people of color participate in research, there will be no breakthroughs in healthcare related to diseases unique to them.

“What we are hoping to do with this data is to make medications that work for you. It’s the right medication for the right person,” said Leners, a former military nurse practitioner. “We don’t give everyone the same set of eye glasses. We don’t give everybody the same blood. So, why are we giving everybody the same blood pressure medication and the same dosage?”

Often people of color, she said, do not respond to medication and they lose time and money on treatments that do not work for them. “We didn’t do the research on people of color. Most medications today are tailored to white males ages 40 to 65 because that is where the majority of the research has been done,” she said.

All of Us is a large data collection research campaign aimed at gathering information on one million people of color. “We want to get this information to people of color to see if they would like to get involved in research,” Leners said. “They have been isolated and haven’t been asked to participate; and when they have been asked, quite frankly, it always hasn’t been fair.” (For more about the All of Us Research Program, see

Annette Harris, who has been a registered nurse for more than 20 years, is one of the Saving Lives Advocates for Benville. In order to complete Benville’s Saving Lives Academy project, she said she wanted to bring the research presentation to the church as a new outreach initiative.

“The church is a foundation in the community for getting information out to the public,” Harris said. “It’s been slow-go, but we’re getting there.”

Dr. Betty Key and Dr. Mercy Mumba, assistant professors of nursing instruction, wrote a grant to work with the National Institutes of Health to help bring the All of Us program to the faith-based community in the Tuscaloosa area. The program was brought to Benville through collaboration with UA’s Capstone College of Nursing.

“We both are looking at cardiovascular research using faith-based organizations,” Key said. “We saw it as a good way to get more African-Americans involved in research, so that African-Americans will have a seat at the table regarding healthcare because it does matter.”

Saving Lives is under the direction of Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs. To learn more about the program, email or call 205-348-9819.

Students Expand Knowledge and Horizons at UA STEM Entrepreneurship Academy

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant
Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator

The University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) held its fourth STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Entrepreneurship Academy Sunday through Friday, July 8–13. Twenty-nine rising 10th and 11th graders from 11 high schools — Aliceville, Amelia Love Johnson, Lamar County, Holt, Berry, Pickens County, Greene County, Sumter Central, Hale County, Central (Tuscaloosa) and Greensboro — experienced a week of exploration, engagement and discovery within the STEM disciplines and the world of entrepreneurship.

“Our STEM Academy is one that offers experiences in science, technology, engineering and math, but also expands the campers’ knowledge of business start-up and entrepreneurship skills,” said Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Education at CCBP.

The camp’s goal is to offer a fun but challenging and innovative hands-on approach to help students understand STEM as fields of study. Students were also introduced to entrepreneurship concepts essential to the workplace and for business start-ups to connect STEM areas such as computer science and biology to the entrepreneurial model. UA’s Career Center also administered a career inventory and conducted a strengths assessment as part of a simulated career fair involving representatives from several University colleges and departments.

Morgan recruited an impressive teaching and administrative staff from the University and community for this year’s Academy, including UA graduate student Ashley Phan, computer engineering and mathematics; Mary Loyd Lowrey, UA Division of Student Life Career Center; Dr. Asma Hatoum-Aslan, biological sciences; Dr. Marcus Ashford, mechanical engineering; Dr. Rebecca Odom-Bartel, computer science; Dr. Jim Gleason, mathematics; and UA alumna Dr. Adriane Sheffield, curriculum and instruction, Coastal Carolina University.

CCBP expanded its partnerships to additional campus and community entities for the 2018 STEM Academy. Partners included the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, the UA Career Center, High Five Studios — an indie video game design studio (independently made games produced by either one person or a small group of people) — and Tuscaloosa’s Gateway to Discovery, a City of Tuscaloosa innovation center. Alex Haisting of High Five Studios, spring 2018 UA graduate and winner of the 2018 Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition, spoke with students about his experiences as a young entrepreneur.

During the STEM Academy week, students were challenged to design a product or service that addresses a problem in their school or community with a hypothetical $2,000 seed grant. Under the guidance of mentors, students worked in groups and presented their proposals to other participants, teachers and parents during the closing program on July 13.

Central High School 10th-grade student Keyonte Doughty said he wants to be a pediatrician, and the STEM Academy provided very useful information to him. He also liked the EcoCAR building activity, which was a collaboration with UA’s award-winning EcoCAR3 team. During this session, students learned about air pollution and its effects on the human respiratory system, as well as ways to minimize it. They received a basic overview of how hybrid cars work and how their use reduces air pollution.

Before seeing the EcoCAR3 entry, a Chevy Camaro being transformed into a hybrid, students were split into teams of four or five and to work together to build their own model cars using popsicle sticks and straws, a battery and battery holder, wheels and a battery switch. Some of the designs ran on the first attempt, but most teams went back to the work table to determine what changes needed to be made to allow their creations to run. They concluded with a car race in the lobby of the AIME Building (Alabama Institute for Manufacturing Excellence), where team members cheered their cars across the finish line.

A short walk led students to the EcoCAR garage, where they had an opportunity to see the Camaro and to learn about the partnership formed by UA, General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. Phan shared that UA students from a variety of majors can become members of the team, reminding them that in addition to the mathematics and engineering involved, there is also a need for individuals with communication, marketing and a variety of other skills to complete the team.

One of the University’s biology labs was another learning location for Academy participants. Following a lesson on antibiotic-resistant bacteria and instruction on the safety requirements and protocols for the lab from Dr. Hatoum-Aslan, students worked in teams of three to conduct their experiments using Andhra, a virus that was first identified by UA researchers in 2015 and that may help scientists learn about alternatives to conventional antibiotics.

The lab was abuzz with excited conversation as students went on a bacteria-seeking mission, gathering swab samples from the floor, the restrooms, the bottoms of shoes, skin and even the event photographer’s camera.

Prior to this experience, students from nine of the 11 participating schools had never had the opportunity to conduct a basic science experiment in a lab. One student shared that her high school has labs and Bunsen burners, but that the burners cannot be used because there is no gas hook-up. Another shared that their school was without a science teacher for the spring semester, so their science learning came from doing coursework online.

Samantha Jones, a teacher at Amelia Love Johnson High School in Thomaston said of her students who participated in the Academy, “It’s good to have them come out and be a part of this so that they know how a science experiment is done. It’s very fortunate — a blessing for them —to see science in motion.”

Jones, who has worked with these students since they were seventh graders, shared how much it meant to her to see them grow over time and take initiative during this on-campus experience, which she described as life-changing for them. She said that this was her school’s second year to participate in the Academy, and that it has provided an excellent way to get students away from home and out of their comfort zones to experience something new.

“I’ve never been to anything like this and it [the camp] opens me up to new things,” said Sumter Central High School 10th-grade student Asia Ikner. She was determined to be an athletic trainer before she attended the camp, but was fascinated by engineering after spending one week in the Academy. “If I hadn’t come here I wouldn’t know about engineering, only thinking about sports stuff,” said Ikner, “it was really eye-opening … I may want to be something different.”

College Hill Baptist Church Conducts Wellness Clinic With Help of Local Medical Institutions

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

As part of its participation in the Saving Lives Academy program, College Hill Baptist Church featured a wellness clinic during its Alberta Community Extravaganza on July 14, 2018.

The church invited specialists from the DCH Regional Medical Center, Maude Whatley Health Services, Inc, Five Horizons Health Services (formerly West Alabama AIDS Outreach) and other area medical personnel to provide valuable health information to the community during the annual festival.

College Hill is one of the founding partners of Saving Lives, an outreach of The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs and its Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP). Saving Lives has recently expanded to include training church members to be leaders in health advocacy.

“God does not dwell in an unclean place or unhealthy places. So we want to make sure that our bodies are healthy,” said College Hill pastor Rev. Kelvin Croom, “Believe it or not, that is one way that Satan attacks God’s people. Sometimes you can get so busy that you can forget about the physical part. With no physical house, there is no spiritual house.”

Croom said the church attempts to incorporate healthy choices in all of its outreach and leadership activities. The church does this by making healthy choices in food preparation for all its events and by adding exercise opportunities.

“We’ve always done outreach,” said Croom. “This is a means of evangelizing outside of the walls of the church. What we’re doing here today is an opportunity to give back to the community.”

The day before the festival, the church conducted a blood drive. Croom’s son, Kevin Croom, has organized a youth basketball league.

The younger Croom said that after the 2011 tornado, Alberta City underwent significant changes. “The area has a lot of homeless people and they come to the church all the time and I talk to them because I’m here a lot. Many of them have lost their insurance or don’t have insurance,” he said. “So, today I have invited them to come out so they can at least learn how to get free medicine or where to get health care services.”

Javis Lanier serves as a Saving Lives advocate for College Hill and was instrumental in organizing the health fair. “I love being a part of Saving Lives because of the compassion to help people gain knowledge,” he said. “I have learned things that I can incorporate into my daily life and share with others, such as what foods not to eat, how to exercise and how to recognize disease signs and symptoms.”

He said the church decided this year to fold the health fair into the community festival in an effort to reach more people.

“We are trying to engage the community with something fun, but also include healthcare screenings, something serious,” said Lanier.

Healthcare professionals provided information about HIV/AIDS, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, heat related illnesses, cancer and pregnancy. In addition, people could get their blood pressure and weight checked.

“We’re always looking at a means of giving back to the community, but we also need to have fun as Christians,” the Rev. Croom said.

Saving Lives is an initiative led by Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, CCBP director of programs and partnerships in the Division of Community Affairs. To learn more about the program, contact her at or at 205-348-9819.


Saving Lives Participants Launch “Senior Moments: Life Management Ministry”

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, in cooperation with UA’s Saving Lives Academy, is holding workshops designed to inform the congregation about good health and wellness practices. In June the church launched “Senior Moments: Life Management Ministry” to provide tools for members aged 50 and over to become healthier in mind, body and spirit.

The new ministry is a result of the church’s participation in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships’ Saving Lives program. Saving Lives is piloting a Saving Lives Academy, which conducts workshops to show church members how to foster healthy living activities.

“We were so fortunate to have this leadership academy training from The University of Alabama,” said participant Letrell Peoples. “This has been a journey. I knew this was something we needed to do and all of you being here today is just awesome.”

More than 30 people participated in the first of what is scheduled to become monthly workshops. The program included presentations from two health professionals.

Christina Pierpaoli Parker, a fifth-year doctoral student in UA’s clinical geropsychology program, talked about how life gets better with age. “I’m so excited to be here because I know in my bones through my clinical work that this is how change happens,” Parker said. “It happens when one person decides to start making positive changes in their lives, and then that person influences another person, and that person influences another person. Over time, not only do you have a healthier person and a healthier family, but you have healthier communities.”

She discussed how people are living longer and finding more satisfaction with age because of improved health, increased financial stability and reduced stress.

Dr. Beth Tobing-Ruiz, a nephrologist specializing in kidney function and diseases such as kidney-related hypertension, was invited by New Zion to discuss holistic medical care and answered questions from the audience. “My interest is in the empowerment of patients, the education of the patient, and providing information to the patient,” Tobing-Ruiz said. She advised participants to ask their doctors questions and not be afraid to see a specialist or to get a second opinion.

As healthcare costs escalate, according to Tobing-Ruiz, medical professionals are studying the benefits of treatments such as acupuncture, prayer and yoga to create a new form of integrative medical treatment. “In this day and age you have to look at not just one possibility, but multiple possibilities. With aging comes good things and bad things. But it would be nice if the medical community would educate us on what to look for, how to prevent bad things, so that you will reap the benefit as you get older.”

Participants said they enjoyed the new ministry and said they looked forward to the next workshop. “I came today because I wanted more information that will help me as I age,” said Ann Brown. “It was really informative and I learned how important eight hours of sleep is to your overall health.”

Rev. Greg Morris, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church’s pastor, said he believes the meeting was a good start to what will become an enriching experience for his parishioners. “This church has had a pretty long-standing relationship with the Saving Lives Program and I wanted us to continue that,” said Morris, pastor at New Zion for the past five years.

Bobbie J. McKinney called the health session a “prefect addition” to the noon Bible Study.

“I need to know all I can about heathy living because I have high blood pressure and arthritis,” she said. “You get around other people and see what’s going on, ask questions and learn a lot.”

Mt. Zion’s next meeting in the “Senior Moments: Life Management Ministry” is scheduled for July 25 at 12:30 p.m.

Saving Lives is under the direction of Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of UA’s Division of Community Affairs.


Saving Lives Expands Program to Develop Leaders in Health Advocacy

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Saving Lives program has broadened its activities to reach outside the church and into the classroom and the community. What started as a program to teach members of area African American churches about health disparities and ways to combat chronic problems like hypertension and diabetes has expanded to include training church members to be leaders in health advocacy.

The Savings Lives Academy provides a complete curriculum to teach church members ways to improve their physical, mental and spiritual life, while simultaneously helping others.

Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, was quick to point out that “This new phase of the Academy builds upon the original work of the Saving Lives initiative, but does not replace it.”

“It’s not often that you have the opportunity to put hands and feet to a vision that has already been established,” said Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs at The University of Alabama.

“What is so awesome is that this vision was started years ago. I have had the opportunity along with others to bring to life this idea of an academy to prepare advocates to work with member churches to improve overall health and wellness,” Prewitt said.

Savings Lives is the creation of Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president of community affairs, and Carol Agomo, director of community and administrative affairs, and has continued to gain momentum since its inception in 2012.

The academy concept began with Dr. Prewitt at the helm in March 2018. Members were asked to come up with ideas about the unique ways individual churches can have a lasting impact on the communities they serve.

During each meeting, the group fellowships with one another over a healthy meal and then come together to learn information which will be shared with their church members, as well as members of their communities.

During the Saving Lives meeting held June 5 in Capital Hall, participants had an opportunity to complete CPR training and be taught about health using scripture and dialogue.

“We know that wellness is much more than not being sick. Wellness is an active process which balances complete physical, mental and social well-being,” said Rosalyn Robinson, a CCBP graduate assistant who is a doctoral student in the executive higher education program.

“Wellness,” Robinson said, “is not just the absence of disease or infirmity; it’s being aware and continually making choices toward healthy living and a healthy lifestyle.”

Robinson talked to the group about mental health, particularly depression and anxiety, using several scriptures as reference points to guide her lesson.

During the discussion, members discussed being anxious about health-related tests and cancer scares, and shared the peace they found in prayer and the importance of being able to have peace of mind in the face of adversity.

Having already met several times this year, the latest session was focused on coming up with a plan for their community engagement project. Members shared ideas and discussed ways to design the project and facilitate their plans.

“We have decided to have a program to discuss living wills, advanced directives and hospice care,” said Shelia Lee, a member of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Each team will receive Academy support to implement at least one community engagement project (church health event) during the window of June–August.

Each community engagement project must: 1) address a need identified by the church; 2) include at least one portion of the Saving Lives trilogy (provide health-related information, increase knowledge about healthier eating, promote healthier physical activities); 3) have pastoral support for implementation; 4) involve organizations or representatives from the public health community; 5) receive program evaluation and evaluation support offered by the Saving Lives network.

Prewitt, who has overseen the program’s transformation, provides reassurance and encouragement for the participants to develop project goals and objectives for the engagement activities, while providing hands-on support for the members.

“Tonight we will think about that idea, develop some goals related to your research, and identify your partner, and then begin the planning,” Prewitt said to the group of about 25 attending the June 5 meeting.

One church, she said, is partnering with other churches in the area to plan an Alberta City Community Extravaganza on July 14. “We are having a community block party from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a health fair and a kids’ zone,” said Kevin Croom, a member of College Hill Baptist Church.

Participants expressed their appreciation for the program, saying they gained knowledge through the interaction with each other and from the facilitators, just as they do when attending church.

“The classes give me information about healthy options I can make to better myself and to help other folks,” said Gwendolyn Rollins of College Hill Baptist Church. “I share the information with my church members, family members, friends, neighbors, everybody.”

Other participants said the program has encouraged them as a church body to provide valuable information in addition to inspiration for their congregation.

“We’re going to do a seniors’ ministry and provide good information to the elderly in our church, who have been really interested in some of the information that we plan to provide,” said Deborah Day of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, who also is a Zumba (exercise fitness) instructor. “I want to incorporate exercise into the ministry also.”

For more information about the program visit:

Saving Lives Connects With West Alabamians at 2018 Tuscaloosa Heart Walk

By Joon Yea Lee
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Saving Lives, an outreach program of UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, took part in this year’s Tuscaloosa Heart Walk sponsored by the American Heart Association on Saturday, March 3.

Saving Lives volunteers, led by Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, CCBP’s director of programs and partnerships for community engagement, successfully advanced Saving Lives’ mission of providing health information and promotion, nutrition, and physical activity to participants and their families and friends throughout West Alabama.

The annual 5k began at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater with check-in and fun activities promoting various healthy life styles from flash mob, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstrations, healthy snacks and warm-up dances led by UA mascot Big Al. Saving Lives volunteers also spent the early morning educating and encouraging healthy eating and life style using props, giveaways and handouts to people visiting the Saving Lives tent. Approximately 40 Saving Lives members and 115 participants interacted with the Saving Lives team.

“Saving Lives includes amazing churches committed to healthy living,” said Prewitt. “I am so honored to have had an opportunity to coordinate our involvement in the community.”

Jennifer Lynette Lee completed the 5k with her mom, who goes to Martin Mission C.M.E. Church, where they heard about the Heart Walk. “I think the biggest thing I learned today is the importance of being active; it was a good walk,” said Lee. “I feel good. My heart’s racing and I feel like I’m doing the right thing. So taking from this, I’m going to try to incorporate it into my daily life so I can be healthy.”

Annette Harris, who goes to Benville Missionary Baptist Church, a Saving Lives member church, has been participating in the Heart Walk for several years. “I enjoy Saving Lives,” Harris said, “because it’s a positive way to give back to the community, because it starts in the church, and it gets church involved to reach out to the community.

“Even one person makes the difference,” she said. “Saving Lives is a tremendous help to our church and so we try to branch out. I have been trying to lead a healthy life style, try to eat healthy, exercise, mentally keep myself ready and stay focused. Today, at first I wasn’t ready, but they prepared us (before the walk) and it was good. I did all the challenges and won the T-shirt!” (for eating Brussels sprouts at all four stations).

Saving Lives has been participating in Tuscaloosa Heart Walk since 2015. This year, Saving Lives raised $750 for the Heart Walk, adding to $205,300 raised in total for the 2018 Tuscaloosa Heart Walk. This year’s American Heart Association goal for Tuscaloosa was $250,000. More than 500 participants registered for the 5k, walking to honor survivors of cardiovascular disease and stroke in the community.

Saving Lives will be a part of next year’s Heart Walk and in the meantime will be recruiting and training more church members and attending promotional activities such as Holt High School Health Fair on Saturday, March 24.