BPL Teens Engineer Birmingham Program Wins $50,000 UAB Benevolent Fund Grant

(l-r) UAB School of Engineering Director of Outreach Dr. Abidin Yildirim,
BPL System Teen Librarian Lance Simpson, and Grants and Special Projects
Librarian Carrie Campbell

The BPL Teens Engineer Birmingham, a program of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL), has received a $50,000 grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund grant program. The money will be used to expand BPL’s afterschool robotics program for teens.

Lance Simpson, system teen librarian for the Birmingham Public Library, said the grant will help expand the BPL’s teen engineering program, enabling it to serve more young people in Birmingham. Simpson and Carrie Campbell, grants and special projects librarian, submitted the grant application on behalf of BPL.

“We are incredibly excited for a chance to work with UAB to provide engineering programs after school for so many of our teens,” Simpson said. “We are grateful for the confidence of the faculty and staff at UAB in selecting us for this great honor, and to the UAB Benevolent Fund for supporting us in this endeavor to best serve the teens of Birmingham.”

The UAB School of Engineering has been partnering with BPL’s Central Library in 2015, coordinating the afterschool engineering program offered for school children in Birmingham, including Phillips Academy downtown. Simpson said UAB’s School of Engineering is providing student mentors to work with the teens participating in the BPL engineering program.

Simpson submitted a video to UAB on December 4 as voting by UAB employees started, sharing the vision and mission of the BPL Teens Engineer Birmingham program. See link to the video here and background on the UAB Benevolent Fund program:

Video link: https://youtu.be/CUQ6eDwmpgI

Link to the voting page from UAB with information about the program: http://www.uab.edu/benfund/support/impact/vote

The $50,000 from the UAB Benevolent Fund will be used to provide afterschool robotics programs to students at the BPL’s Central, Southside, and Woodlawn Libraries during the 2016-17 school year, said Angela Fisher Hall, director of the Birmingham Public Library.

“Congratulation to the team that worked on the program, including Teen System Librarian Lance Simpson,” Hall said.

Lisa Higginbotham, UAB Benevolent Fund program manager, said in an email that tentative plans call for a ceremonial presentation in late February 2016 during a UAB Basketball game at Bartow Arena.

“We appreciate the work BPL does in our community, and we look forward to a strong continued working relationship with BPL. Happy Holidays and congratulations,” Higginbotham said in an e-mail to Simpson, the BPL teen librarian.

The Community Impact Grant enables UAB employees to make a real and measurable difference to a challenging community issue. The grant is awarded to one nonprofit or a coalition of nonprofits submitting a proposal that results in a deep and direct impact in one of three areas: education, health, or economic security. Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA) and Red Mountain Park were the other two finalists competing with BPL.

About 1,500 UAB employees cast their vote for the recipient agency after viewing video presentations from three finalists. The first UAB Community Impact Grant was awarded to Magic City Harvest in December 2014.

“The Community Impact Grant is a unique and engaging opportunity for UAB employees to make their voices heard and make a deep, lasting impact in our community,” Higginbotham said. “For local nonprofits, the significant funding with this grant will allow them to dream big in regard to new programming and efforts to address the challenging community issues of childhood educational success, healthy and active lifestyles, and family economic security.”