The Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama
June 2020
Community Outreach
UWA's Black Belt Museum collaborates with College of Education to go virtual

Albert Koch (Brian Mast), his artifacts, and much more are ready to go virtual in classrooms and communities across the Black Belt thanks to funding from the NEH.

The National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) has awarded a $165,000 to the University of West Alabama's College of Education in partnership with the Black Belt Museum for its  Respect the Past, Create the Future within the Black Belt Region of Alabama  grant proposal.

The NEH received 2,333 eligible applications for its  NEH CARES: Cultural Organizations  program and funded 317 organizations nationally affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our goal is to expand the available resources to teachers that focus on our region in order to inspire individuals to learn more about their own backyard," said Brian Mast, educator for the Black Belt Museum. "We are excited to not only partner with the College of Education on this project, but to be at the forefront of providing educational content from the field directly into the classrooms in our region."      
Funds from the grant will allow for the purchase of special equipment that will be used to provide quality educational programs this fall to the schools in Alabama's rural Black Belt. Mast noted that due to COVID-19, the Black Belt Museum staff saw the need to transition their ability to deliver programming online. COE had similar ideas. In order to accomplish their goals, both sides brought their resources and experience together in order to make such their projects a reality.

With the new equipment, that includes a 360-degree camera, scanner and more, the Black Belt Museum will develop a more active online platform where visitors can view, book and experience all the natural and cultural history of the Black Belt.

"Respect the Past. Create the Future" activities will introduce audiences across the Black Belt region including K-12 students, parents, and community members to living history programs such as 18 th  Century French Marine and Swiss Mercenary at Fort Tombecbe, 1812 7 th  US Infantry Regular Soldier during the War of 1812 and Dr. Albert Koch during his 1845 travels in Alabama.

With limited access to broadband in the region, some might wonder how audiences will interact do we accomplish this idea in an area with limited access to broadband - through an innovative new practice called drive-in theater experiences. The Black Belt Museum and COE set up at a local community gathering area where individuals can distance themselves yet still enjoy the digitized content from the Black Belt Museum educators for live or prerecorded programs. The staff can also place primary resources on the Black Belt Museum website that teachers can pull to be used to augment lesson plans they are already implementing in the classroom.

The Black Belt Museum wishes to thank College of Education, Office of Sponsored Programs and all of its contributors who spent many hours drafting the application.
Lookout this Fall for more great content from you're the Black Belt Museum at various social media platforms -from a traditional website, to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Don't forget to check out the Black Belt Museum Website for all their updates:

WIOA-Youth Pathways receives funding 

Prior to COVID-19, CNA participants visited DCH in Tuscaloosa with CNA instructor (left) and visited with hospital officials.  

In August, UWA will launch its fifth year of CNA and career readiness training thanks to funding from the State of Alabama and the Region 3 Workforce Development Council. 

The Division of Economic and Workforce Development received $246,469 to conduct three CNA courses and one Career Essentials course through the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 
"We are pleased to once again be able to offer this program at no cost to participants," said Tina Naremore Jones, vice president for the Division of Economic and Workforce Development. "Our staff has worked hard to develop a program that helps prepare individuals for the workforce by building technical and essential skills such as financial literacy, team building and communication skills."   
Teamwork Activities

The first class for Program Year 2020 will begin in August. Students participating in the program will work towards not only CNA national licensure, but also CPR certification and the National Career Readiness Certificate. Additionally participants will receive career counseling, resume writing practice, interview preparation, financial literacy instruction and more. 

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, and are currently out of school, are encouraged to apply for the 2019-2020 Program Year. Interested individuals may apply by contacting Jordan Mahaffey, Program Director, at or 205-652-5494.
Ambreia Taylor participated in the UWA CNA Program during Program Year 2016. 
She was recently recognized by her employer, Greene County Health System, as a " Front Line Hero" In fact, during COVID-19, she exhibited outstanding care for her residents and coworkers.
(Ambreia is the person on the left.)

Congratulations Ambreia

Workforce Development
Betabox Learning partners with UWA in LINCS
Mobile units to provide state-of-the art environment for workforce training.
North Carolina based hands-on learning company, Betabox, has secured a contract with the University of West Alabama to help implement a Workforce Development initiative funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor & the Delta Regional Authority. The initiative, LINCS, is designed to help develop a regional workforce based on industry-recognized standards, credentials, and identified needs in order to strengthen the economy and skill levels in a 10-county west Alabama rural region. Betabox is mobile, customizable, adaptable to different employer requirements, and is always at the cutting edge of innovative approaches and solutions for education and training. 

As the United States faces rapidly increasing unemployment rates around the country, the LINCS program provides a unique opportunity for Betabox to help this region combat the economic downturn. This program will provide up-skilling and job training opportunities that will lead directly to job placement. 

The company will build two custom Mobile Learning Labs to support the initial launch of the Workforce Development program. They will also provide transportation, logistics services, and coordination of the two Mobile Labs. To support the program, Betabox will be using its newest model of the Betabox Mobile Learning Lab. Named "BXG", its design will allow the University to configure the interior of the lab, so it can be tailored to support the employer partners that UWA will be partnering with. 
"The Betabox Mobile Learning Labs fit not only with the objectives of the LINCS grant, but builds on our commitment to offer innovative and flexible training solutions for our regional employers. The Mobile Learning Labs allow us to reach individuals where they are in their communities, or at their workplace, thus strengthening the rural workforce pipeline," said Dr. Tina Jones, UWA's Vice-President for Economic and Workforce Development.      
Betabox is perfectly suited to support the needs of the LINCS program. Their Mobile Learning Labs provide the flexibility to meet the learner where they are, and to deliver solutions that improve the quality of education and learning, which ultimately raises the efficacy that this program will have. 
"Betabox is thrilled to partner with UWA to help catalyze the 10-county region under this generous grant award by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Delta Regional Authority," said Greg Pearlman, Chief Success Officer. "We look forward to making a strong and lasting impact on the region and creating new opportunities for people that are pursuing better economic outcomes."
It is more important than never to be counted

Funding for Programs that Impact You, Your Family and Our Communities
Funding to Alabama for many important programs that affect health care, education, housing assistance, infrastructure development and more is tied in some form to census data. An accurate count will ensure that the state receives its fair share of funding for these important programs.  A recent study indicates that the U.S. government returned almost $1,600 to the state in 2015 for every Alabamian counted in the census.

To find out more about why the Census is important to you and all of Alabama, visit the following link 

To apply for a job with the US Census, click here.

The Career Center staff is still available to serve you! 
Call 334-289-0202

Applications are due this week  Have you submitted yours?

This is your LAST WEEK to apply for Reignite Alabama. Don't miss your chance!
The Reignite Alabama Program is looking for innovators, entrepreneurs, and business owners to solve problems COVID-19 has highlighted in our state. They are focusing on four sectors (see below). You still have time to  apply, so get to work!

  • SECTOR I: Commercial, Retail, & Live Events
  • SECTOR II: Healthcare
  • SECTOR III: Education
  • SECTOR IV: Industrial & Manufacturing
Applications are open until July 16. 


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Make a difference in your rural community, complete your census HERE
July 21-August 18-September 15
2020 Black Belt Arts Symposium Online

Get your tickets for the Zoom Workshops  HERE 

October 23
The Alabama Summit on Rural Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Get your tickets HERE 

Face Shields Updates

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Belt Museum team has produced and distributed 1823 face shields to the community.

Check out, the new website for the division. 
ACT Work Ready Communities Repor t
Sumter County is a certified Work Ready Community with 99% of county goals completed. A complete report description is available at the link below. 

Click here to view the 
 ACT Work Ready Communities report.

ACT Workkeys 
During COVID-19 our regularly scheduled ACT Workkeys testing has been suspended. However, we are still available to assist individuals in preparing for testing and to schedule test post COVID-19 restrictions. For information, call (205)652-3828 or email

UWA Certified Nursing  Assistant 
program and Certified
 Automotive Technician program are still accepting

Click  here to 
Certified Automotive 
Technician flyer.

Click  here to download the Certified Nursing Assistant flyer.

Division of Economic and Workforce Development

Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area
Alabama's Black Belt:
Where the Culture is as Rich as the Land. The Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area comprises 19 counties in central and western Alabama that are working together to attain designation as a National Heritage Area.
Visit them on Facebook HERE .
UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development |