Impact Alabama is a student service initiative and non-profit organization dedicated to developing and implementing substantive service-learning projects in coordination with students from 25 universities and colleges throughout the state of Alabama.
Founded in 2004 by former Maynard Cooper attorney Stephen F. Black, Impact Alabama has two primary objectives: 1) to engage students in addressing human and community needs within structured service opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and leadership development, and 2) to enhance students’ sense of social and political responsibility, as well as their sense of ability to affect systemic change.
Maynard Cooper is pleased to be investing substantial resources into Impact Alabama. The firm is committed to a multi-year financial gift to support the organization’s operations as well as the provision of office space and supplies for employees and various Impact Alabama initiatives. In addition, our individual attorneys serve the organization through volunteer efforts, with one Maynard Cooper Shareholder serving on Impact Alabama’s Board of Directors.
Since its inception, Impact Alabama has created four initiatives: SpeakFirst: An Alabama Student Debate Initiative; FocusFirst: An Alabama Student Vision Initiative; SaveFirst: A Tax Preparation and Financial Literacy Initiative; and CollegeFirst: An Advanced Placement Mentoring Initiative. Each of these initiatives has had a tremendous impact on students and families across Alabama:
- The first four graduating classes of SpeakFirst have earned more than $2.8 million in college scholarships. Since the inception of SpeakFirst, students have participated in more than 550 debate practices, competed in more than 65 tournaments, and won approximately half of their debate rounds.
- Over the last seven years, students participating in FocusFirst have screened more than 120,000 children in 67 counties across the state, with approximately 11% of the children failing the screenings and receiving follow-up care as necessary. In addition, more than 2,100 college students at more than 20 colleges and universities across Alabama have participated in FocusFirst.
- SaveFirst helped Alabama families claim more than $8.2 million in refunds and saved them approximately $1.3 million in commercial preparation fees. In 2011 alone, SaveFirst trained over 450 college, graduate and law students from 10 campuses that prepared tax returns for more than 4,300 working families in Alabama.
- During the second annual CollegeFirst Summer Advanced Placement Institute in June 2011, 70 trained college students provided academic instruction to at least 215 high school students from Birmingham City, Jefferson County, Huntsville City, Madison County, Tuscaloosa City, and Tuscaloosa County schools.
Detailed information on each initiative is outlined below:
SpeakFirst: An Alabama Student Debate Initiative is one of the four programs that Impact Alabama implements. SpeakFirst’s mission is to enrich the academic experience of talented and motivated students from Birmingham's public high schools through participation on an “all-star” debate team. The debate training provided by SpeakFirst develops students’ critical thinking, writing, research and public speaking skills. Tutoring, college admissions guidance, standardized test prep and summer internships are also provided. SpeakFirst aims to provide participating students with the skills and knowledge they need to realize their talents and participate fully in society as students, leaders and citizens. Maynard Cooper has formed a collaborative partnership with SpeakFirst to provide a location for debate practice as well as mentoring by the firm’s attorneys.
FocusFirst: An Alabama Student Vision Initiative is a program that provides a cost-effective direct response to the vision care problems of children who live in urban and rural poverty in Alabama. Under the supervision of Impact staff, undergraduate and graduate students ensure that children, six months to five years of age, in Head Starts and daycares are screened for vision problems using technologically advanced photo optic scan cameras. All children failing the screenings receive subsidized follow-up care through our partner nonprofit Sight Savers America.
SaveFirst: A Tax Preparation and Financial Literacy Initiative is a program that trains college, graduate, and law students to provide free tax preparation services and opportunities for savings and economic improvement to low-income, working families—especially targeting those eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit refund.
CollegeFirst: An Advanced Placement Mentoring Initiative is a program that trains college and graduate students 1) to provide academic tutoring and mentoring to high school students pursuing Advanced Placement coursework, and 2) to help implement a Pre-AP summer academic enrichment program for Birmingham-area students enrolled in AP Biology, AP Calculus, and AP Chemistry.
For more information about Impact Alabama, please visit www.impactalabama.org.