5 months ago

TAP helps inner-city school athletes reach for the stars with STEM

Chris Rogers left the heights of college football at the University of Alabama knowing he wanted to make a difference.

Ten years later, he’s seeing his dreams come to pass through his nonprofit Together Assisting People (TAP).

Rogers founded TAP with a focus on STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – to help propel young Black athletes into strong careers and a bright future. Since 2009, more than 5,000 students have gone through the TAP program. The organization has helped place more than 100 students in college with about $35 million in scholarships. About 80% of TAP’s college students are Black and are their family’s first generation to enter higher education.

Around 2009, as a young college graduate, Rogers saw a deficit in the educational system: Fewer than 2% of minority students take advantage of STEM careers. He’s “paying it forward” by helping to change that statistic – working at a grassroots level – through TAP.

“Right now, we’ve got three students in internships with tech companies,” said Rogers, who is leveraging his experiences with TAP in his Diversity and Inclusion role. “We’re trying to get students prepared and ready.

“What I like about STEM is you can unlock the key to your own destiny; these are things I wish I had known as an athlete,” said Rogers, a 2009 member of the University of Alabama’s first national football championship team under coach Nick Saban. “We’re trying to make these inner-city kids know about these opportunities and present them with the possibilities. Most of the time, they don’t know. We have professors and professionals come talk to them about those type of things, and that’s how we introduce them early to the concept of working in tech.”

Building on a five-pillar foundation – education, STEM, workforce development, servant leadership and civic engagement – TAP’s mentoring program provides opportunities for promising students who lack financial resources. The students commit to a yearlong schedule that includes after-school tutoring and professional development, university and corporate site visits, and weekend community service events. Students receive guidance on taking math and science classes to prepare them for future STEM careers. TAP’s program managers help family members understand Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) paperwork to help finance college.

Rogers and his program managers share the STEM initiative with educators, coaches and guidance counselors at high schools who locate athletes to take part in TAP. The program has worked with young men at Blount and Bryant high schools in Mobile, Central High in Tuscaloosa, Lanier High in Montgomery, and Huffman, Ramsay and Wenonah high schools in Birmingham.

Currently, Rogers and TAP program managers are helping 20 students. Upon entering the program, most students have a 2.2 to 2.3 GPA. While they’re in the program, the average GPA rises to about 3.2, Rogers said.

The goal is to give athletes aged 16-22 a head start in STEM by exposing them to computer- and cloud-based technologies.

“We bring them in and track the students for three or four years,” Rogers said. “We’re trying to stay with them and give them the tools they need to be successful, to make sure they have real degrees, real opportunity and leadership. When they come out of college and graduate, they’re getting internships with these tech companies. It’s a beautiful thing.”

During each meeting, TAP program managers reinforce that education is the key to excel. Students understand they’re in control of their future, and know that good grades are important to their future success.

“They start understanding early about what they must do to prepare to take the SAT, to transition into the situation they want,” Rogers said. “I tell my students, ‘This is the way – this is the future.’ The tech industry is virtually bulletproof: It’s the one industry that has thrived during the pandemic. Other businesses have gone under, but companies in the tech industry have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled during this time.”

The pandemic also ushered in changes to TAP. Now, TAP’s mentors meet with students during 2- to 3-hour Zoom sessions.

A recent grant from the Alabama Power Foundation helped TAP purchase laptops and other equipment and materials for students.

“This Alabama Power Foundation grant is helping us plant the seed to consider a STEM career in these athletes’ minds,” Rogers said. “With the grant, we were able to increase our STEM activities to provide access to this technology. Now we’re able to have professionals in the field talk to our students. Fortune 500 companies talk to them about job descriptions, and our high school athletes are majoring in computer science information technology. They’re starting to look into that space. We thank the foundation for helping our students to do this.”

In everything TAP does, the focus is on increasing athletes’ vision of what they can achieve. Rogers tells the young men that a bright future awaits even if athletics doesn’t lead to a career on the football field or the basketball court.

“As athletes, everybody is trying to talk to you about being a superstar, making it to the NBA or NFL, but you’ve got a better chance if you understand how to code and how to do the simple things on a computer,” Rogers said. “You can have a career for 20 or 30 years with great pay, great benefits and stock options.

“I’ve got to thank the Alabama Power Foundation for supporting us and recognizing the need to introduce kids in our community to STEM,” he said. “We’re touching kids throughout the state of Alabama.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

48 seconds ago

Regions reports second quarter earnings of $748 million based on delivery of ‘solid performance’

Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corporation announced its second quarter 2021 earnings on Friday.

The company reported net income available to common shareholders of $748 million and earnings per diluted share of $0.77. The company’s total revenue grew 2% compared to second quarter 2020.

John Turner, president and CEO of Regions Financial Corporation, sees the opportunity for continued growth.

“Our teams delivered solid performance throughout the second quarter, and as a result of our strategic planning and key investments, we are well positioned to generate long-term, sustainable growth over time,” he said in a release from the company.

He cited growth within the company’s markets as a reason for the encouraging outlook.

“Regions operates in highly attractive markets that are benefiting from favorable population trends and strong employment opportunities,” Turner explained. “In each of these markets, our bankers are serving new and long-term customers through customized financial insights, enhanced technology and a commitment to superior service. We have taken several steps – adding talented bankers, investing in service and delivery channels, and enhancing our capabilities through our bolt-on acquisition strategy – to build on our momentum and create greater value for customers, communities, and shareholders over time.”

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Regions emphasized that its digital investments are generating returns, its business segments are proving resilient amid pandemic recovery conditions and its strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, are delivering results.

The company noted that increased consumer engagement with the bank’s online and mobile banking platforms is generating 9% year-over-year growth in active digital banking users and 13% year-over-year growth in active mobile banking users.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions Financial Corporation is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services.

Regions operates across the South, Midwest and Texas.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

58 mins ago

State Rep. Crawford: Violations of potential Critical Race Theory ban could be fireable offense; ‘Up to leadership’ if it comes up in special session

Another bill banning Critical Race Theory in Alabama’s public schools has been prefiled for the 2022 regular session, the third piece of such legislation, with nearly six months until the legislature reconvenes in Montgomery.

The bill, HB 11, filed by State Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens), would prohibit public K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning “from teaching certain concepts regarding race or sex, such as critical race theory.”

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Crawford explained that should teachers choose to ignore and violate such a ban by the Alabama Legislature, it could result in termination according to current law.

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“We have the teacher tenure laws and the students’ first law,” he explained. “There’s due process that must happen. But, if the legislature chooses to ban the teaching of that, then someone disobeys that ban or decides on their own what they want to do, then there needs to be consequences for that. And our code that deals with due process goes into what those things are. If the school system said we’re not going to teach it, then someone does teach it, is that incompetency, or is that insubordination, or neglect of duty, or failure to perform duties in a satisfactory manner? All of those things are types of disciplinary action that would be subject to termination, which falls into the same category. They all have due process. But I don’t think we need to have our teachers teaching something that the state of Alabama says will not be taught.”

The Limestone County Republican lawmaker also suggested the topic could come up in one of the special sessions rumored to occur before the end of the year, noting that was up to leadership.

“That’s all up to leadership,” he said. “But I do think it’s important to have this in place, whether its — sometimes special sessions, the call, we take other things onto the agenda other than say redistricting or something like that. So, all of these things — it could be added to the call if the Governor felt it was important enough. And I would like to emphasize to the Governor’s office that I think it is important, and I think a lot of my colleagues will, as well. It could be time enough. It could be discussed and passed. And it may not be. Leadership may decide we don’t want to do that. If not, then we’ll look at it in regular session in January.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

1 hour ago

7 Things: Masks could come back in Jefferson County, AEA demanding teachers stop criticizing them or be punished at work, Biden wants your kids under 12 vaccinated and more …

7. January 6 committee moving forward

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called the concerns and complaints from Republicans, such as ones voiced by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), “antics,” and she’s planning to move forward despite these concerns.
  • McCarthy slammed the committee after two of his selections were blocked by Pelosi, and he insisted that Republicans would be forming their own committee to investigate the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

6. Race relations are worse than they have been in 20 years

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  • The media and their Democrats would somehow have you believe that America has become a more racist place every single day and even though this is patently absurd, that accusation is leading 57% of Americans to believe race relations between black and white Americans are “somewhat” or “very” bad.
  • According to Gallup, 70% of black Americans had positive views of race relations in 2001, now only 33% do. Also, 43% of white Americans view race relations positively, compared to 62% in 2001. These stunning drops began in 2013, which was the same year Black Lives Matter was founded.

5. Auburn’s head coach isn’t interested in the media’s vaccination games

  • Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin was recently asked about the team’s coronavirus vaccination rate, which he said the medical staff “has those answers a lot better than I do,” but he said he believes it’s around 60%.
  • Despite the rate being as high as it is, media outlets are qualifying this as a “low” vaccination rate. Harsin has emphasized that getting the vaccine is “deeply personal for a lot of people,” adding, “And so, that’s how we approach it: here’s the information, you make the decision.” Harsin didn’t disclose his vaccination status when asked, and he also mentioned that he would not ask players about whether they’re getting the vaccine.

4. Most Alabama counties are now ‘very high risk’

  • As coronavirus cases in the United States and Alabama have been increasing once again, the Alabama Department of Public Health has now said that 59 of 67 counties in Alabama are considered “red,” which is a very high risk, for spreading the virus.
  • There are currently 602 people hospitalized throughout the state, and in the last 14 days, there have been 9,907 new cases.

3. Biden wants to vaccinate kids under 12 by fall

  • President Joe Biden has met the new push for coronavirus vaccinations for children under the age of 12. He said that the goal is to have something available by “the end of August, beginning of September, October.”
  • Biden added that he believes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will recommend masks for children who are ineligible to get the vaccine, at least while they’re at school, and he declared the issue of being honest about vaccinations “a matter of community responsibility.”

2. AEA is fighting for teachers

  • A cease and desist letter from the Alabama Education Association (AEA) has been sent to Mary Crosby, a local board of education employee, after she criticized Critical Race Theory and the National Education Association (NEA) after she claimed in a post that part of the dues paid to AEA also went to NEA.
  • AEA claimed that Crosby spread false information and she must “retract the false publications” and they also sent a letter to the superintendent, adding that “should you continue to publish libelous materials about AEA, or make false statements about AEA, during work hours, without disciplinary action against you, we will deem your employer to have approved of such activities.” It was, in fact, not a workday for Crosby.

1. Masks could be coming back to Jefferson County

  • Governor Kay Ivey has made statements encouraging people to get the coronavirus vaccine for months but remains very blunt about the topic. Ivey said that in the effort to end the pandemic, “the unvaccinated folks are letting us down.” However, Ivey has no interest in issuing new mandates for masks or shutdowns, while Jefferson County is going in another direction.
  • Jefferson County health officer Dr. Mark Wilson has warned that masks should be considered for public places once again due to the rise in coronavirus cases. It’s anticipated that with a higher case count, hospitalizations and deaths could follow. Wilson said, “The tragic thing is that almost all of these deaths will have been prevented if only these people had been vaccinated.” Some of the media criticism of large gatherings has also returned as cases rise.

3 hours ago

Boeing’s Starliner capsule cleared for launch on ULA’s Atlas V — ‘We are ready to fly’

Teams from NASA and Boeing completed the flight readiness review on Thursday for the Starliner space capsule’s upcoming trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

The unmanned Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is set to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Giving Starliner a lift will be United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V was built at the company’s 1.6 million square foot manufacturing facility in Decatur. Boeing’s design center in Huntsville has provided all of the structural design for the Starliner, while its Phantom Works division, which has an operation in Huntsville, has provided the power systems for the capsule.

Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator, announced completion of the review at a press conference with Boeing officials.

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“These are very important reviews where the station and commercial crew and Boeing teams really stop and scrutinize the work that they have done to get ready for this flight,” Lueders outlined. “After reviewing the team’s data and the readiness of all the parties, everyone said ‘go’ for launch, today, and moving on for the mission. It was an incredibly detailed review and the team really showed all the work that they have done to get us here.”

OFT-2 is the final test before Starliner carries crew into space.

Establishing Starliner as a qualified spacecraft to carry astronauts to the ISS is essential to the program, according to Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“It is very important for the commercial crew program to have two space transportation systems,” he said. “This will be the second of those.”

SpaceX’s Dragon is already qualified for the program and has flown with crew. It returned to Earth from its most recent mission to the ISS on July 9.

In an effort to maximize the testing opportunities of this flight, ULA’s Atlas V rocket has been configured exactly the same as it will be for crewed flights.

Stich noted that numerous systems will be tested as part of OFT-2, including the rendezvous and docking systems.

“Boeing and NASA teams have worked side-by-side to resolve numerous issues to go through and close our requirements,” he said. “We’re ready to go flying now. It’s an exciting time. This mission is key to the crewed flight.”

A thorough review of the Starliner’s software and hardware has been an ongoing process for Boeing.

“This is not the first day we have been working on readiness,” stated John Vollmer, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “We have literally been working on this for months and months. And so this is really the culmination of a lot of hard work by all the teams.”

“We are ready to fly,” he concluded.

A successful OFT-2 will allow NASA and Boeing to move forward with the Starliner’s first crewed mission later this year. NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke have already been selected for the flight to the ISS, a mission which will extend more than two decades of human presence on the orbiting research facility.

In anticipation of their flight, the astronauts have been actively engaged in the readiness process.

Norm Knight, director of NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate, provided his perspective on what OFT-2 will mean for the upcoming crewed flight.

“Spaceflight is hard,” he explained. “It’s definitely not easy. I will just tell you that the crew greatly appreciates the effort by NASA, Boeing and the ULA partnership for safe space flight for our astronauts.”

OFT-2 is scheduled to launch on July 30 and dock at the ISS 24 hours later. It will stay at the ISS until August 5 and return to Earth on the same day with a landing in the New Mexico desert.

It will carry cargo on both legs of its trip.

RELATED: ‘From Alabama to the Moon’ — Richard Shelby is the driving force making America’s space dreams a reality

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 hours ago

Tuberville delivers for Alabama’s defense priorities as NDAA passes committee

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022 reported out of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Wednesday night with U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) securing amendments during the markup process which will play a crucial role in benefiting Alabama’s defense installations and strengthening United States military readiness.

Since assuming office earlier this year, Alabama’s junior senator has made it a top priority to advocate for the position Alabama holds in supporting initiatives that are vital in protecting U.S. national security. Tuberville says he believes it is critical that the state of Alabama holds a seat at the table in defense appropriations discussions.

“I’ve made it my mission to visit our commanders in the field and Alabama’s military communities to hear from our service men and women directly so I can be their voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee,” said Tuberville. “This year, in every vote I cast during the National Defense Authorization Act, I asked if it would be in the best interest of our country and responsible to the taxpayer. I’m proud of how Alabama supports our military and I’ve encouraged my colleagues in the Senate to rise to meet the grave threats facing our nation.”

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Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the top Republican on the Committee and SASC ranking member, praised Tuberville for his focus on supporting national defense objectives.

“Senator Tuberville has made important contributions to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act as a first-year member of the Senate Armed Services Committee,” said Inhofe. “His provisions will strengthen our national defense by leveraging the expertise and abilities of Alabama’s military installations and industry, including world-class shipbuilding, a vibrant defense workforce, and Army modernization, Space Force implementation, and missile defense efforts.”

The following is a summary of funding priorities secured by Tuberville in the NDAA for fiscal year 2022. The objectives relate to an array of funding areas that will serve to benefit Alabama’s military installations and its robust aerospace and defense industry:

● Increased overall Department of Defense (DOD) topline by 3%
● Prioritized funding for hypersonic development and testing with an emphasis on Huntsville’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA)
● Targeted funding for further development of high-energy lasers (HEL)
● Accelerated investment in satellite systems to address cyber vulnerabilities in support of the Space Command
● Secured a new Force reserve component within the National Guard for the U.S. Space Force
● Authorized funding toward supporting repair and maintenance for Dannelly Field in Montgomery
● Provided authorization of two Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels in support of the Gulf’s shipbuilding industry
● Secured funding toward resources for a second Guided Missile Destroyer, fulfilling the U.S. Navy’s top funding priority
● Fought for small business innovators by advocating for public-private partnership to incentivize employee ownership for government defense contractors
● Sought $6.6M toward the improvement of Fort Rucker’s dilapidated barracks

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News