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For over 10 years, Christian Service Mission has partnered with Samford University for their “Business and Local Poverty” class offered each Jan-Term. Dr. Barbara Cartledge (Senior Assistant Dean of Academic Programs, Brock School of Business) and Tracy Hipps worked together to form a class that allows students to connect what they have learned in the business field to the nonprofit sector. This class has provided over 100 students with the opportunity to go into the community and connect with local churches and organizations that are working to make a difference in the various communities around Birmingham. Additionally, students read various books about poverty and the challenges that come with it to develop a more educated understanding of the many factors that contribute to the cycle of poverty we see in our country from a Christian and social entrepreneurial understanding.

This year, students visited many organizations/churches such as Greater Shiloh in West End and heard from local nonprofit and business leaders such as leadership of The Foundry. Students spent time on our campus hearing from Tracy and touring the facility.  We were excited to host these eager students and show them around our campus. We were also able to tell them about the work we do in the community and relate it back to what they have learned in their reading and other site visits. In addition to teaching the students about CSM, Tracy also showed the students maps illustrating Birmingham’s modern day residential segregation and its correlation to food deserts in order to provide a better understanding of Birmingham.

We are proud to work with Samford for this course alongside hosting Samford internships, service projects, and class projects throughout the year.  As these students have learned through this class, education is a key to overcoming poverty and we are thankful for the opportunities to continually work with Samford to give their students a glimpse into the work being done in this city by working through our partner churches and organizations.