Here’s a closer look at finalists for NextGen Pitch Competition

Here’s a closer look at finalists for NextGen Pitch Competition
Jarvis Prewitt and his mentor, Forte', are headed for the NextGen Pitch Competition at the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama headquarters Thursday evening. (Frank Couch/The Birmingham Times)

On Thursday, two students and three teachers with Birmingham City Schools will compete in the NextGen Pitch Competition for the grand prize of $5,000.

Second- and third-place prizes are $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. The finals will be held at the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama building in downtown Birmingham. There will be a reception at 5 p.m. followed by presentations at 6 p.m. Here are the finalists:


Name: Jarvis Prewitt

Age: 16

School/Year: Huffman High School/Junior

Activities and Organizations: National Honor Society, president; Skills USA; Math Team; Viking Football Team, co-captain; Future Business Leaders of America; Student Government Association; National Beta Club; TASH Program (health education class); Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee

Excerpt of Prewitt’s Pitch: The implementation of a Makerspace within all 43 Birmingham City Schools. A Makerspace is a collaborative learning environment where students and its users utilize technology to invent, experiment and explore, while being challenged to be creative and think outside of the box while using STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Inside these Makerspaces you will witness individuals using their skills to create a plethora of things while operating advanced technology. … With the execution of Makerspaces in Birmingham City Schools, it will not only expose our students to a variety of features but enlarge students’ ability in STEM. Makerspaces in Birmingham City Schools would serve as a virtual classroom where educators take the curriculum or a teacher-led project and utilize it in these labs. To further make the schools more inviting to parents, schools would partner with businesses that specialize in STEM to provide training in the parent-resource center.

Prewitt’s Mentor: Forté, assistant and office manager, Birmingham Education Foundation (Ed Foundation)

Her Story: For more than 17 years, Forté has helped raise student achievement in various secondary and postsecondary educational projects, managing multiple projects simultaneously. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Forté launched a social-service career with Behavioral Guidance, a wraparound service that supported the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources (DHR) and Birmingham City Schools through academic remediation, parenting and student behavior modification. The Aliceville, Ala., native and Birmingham resident has supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) efforts across the United States as a Eureka! Technology Instructor with Girls Inc. of Central Alabama and a Kaplan ACT coach.

Zhaundra Jones and Kamil Goodman. (Frank Couch/The Birmingham Times)

Name: Kamil Goodman

Age: 16

School/Year: A.H. Parker High School/Sophomore

Activities and Organizations: Beta Club Honor Society; member of the marching band as a Bisonette dancer; varsity basketball and soccer player; student ambassador for GEAR UP Birmingham with Birmingham City Schools

Excerpt of Goodman’s Pitch: Create a leadership roundtable that will include youth leaders and elected officials in Birmingham—including Mayor [Randall] Woodfin, members of the City Council and the Birmingham School Board. This roundtable will serve as an opportunity for elected officials to fully engage youth in the city and hear our voices. Elected officials will be able to hear how youth feel regarding violence, education issues, employment and how to retain youth in Birmingham after graduating from high school or college. Birmingham’s brighter future depends on newly elected leadership in the city of Birmingham fully engaging the youth of Birmingham. Youth leaders have a voice and desire to be involved in the growth that awaits Birmingham. This means creating viable dialogue between elected decision makers and the students in Birmingham City Schools that have the voice and pulse of the youth.

Goodman’s Mentor: Zhaundra Jones, senior program officer, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham

Her Story: Jones manages a portfolio of grants related to improving educational outcomes, expanding access to arts and culture, and supporting the development of vibrant city centers. Born in Texas and raised in Birmingham, Jones is a product of Birmingham City Schools and graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts. She fondly remembers her mentors and Sunday School teachers at Sixth Avenue Baptist and Academic Bowl coaches at Arrington Middle School.

Val Walton Cornner and Kaleena Watts. (Frank Couch/The Birmingham Times)


Name: Kaleena Watts

School/Subject: A.H. Parker High School English Department/American Literature

Excerpt of Watts’ Pitch: A districtwide student news outlet. The district student news will be a producer of news created for students by students. With less than 20 percent of the students in our district reading at or above proficiency level, the student news will serve as a new resource to engage young readers, building better reading skills and habits. The platform … will allow students across the seven high schools in Birmingham City Schools to collaborate in a way that models global business practices. Participating students will gain invaluable career exposure and development, addressing the overarching goal of our educational mission — college and career readiness.

Watts’ Partner: Valeria Walton Cornner, communications director, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA)

Her Story: Walton Cornner has been with the EDPA since 2012, and her current role involves overseeing media relations, developing communications strategies and managing social media accounts. Her professional affiliations include the Public Relations Council of America and EDPA. Cornner is from Alexander City, Ala., and a graduate of the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Walter Body and Shauntae Lockett Lewis. (Frank Couch/The Birmingham Times)

Name: Shauntae Lockett Lewis

School/Subject: Minor Elementary School/Physical Education Teacher

Excerpt of Lockett Lewis’s Pitch: Birmingham’s brighter future depends on implementing an athletic recruitment service for non-revenue-generating sports. Everyone is looking for the next LeBron James, but your typical volleyball, soccer or track-and-field athletes are not getting these looks. If we offered a process beginning in ninth grade assisting students and parents with the process, we would see more of our non-revenue sports getting into college.

Lockett Lewis’ Partner: Walter Body, director of Multicultural Marketing and Consumers, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United Inc.

His Story: Body has served the Birmingham Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United Inc. for more than 41 years. During his tenure, he has held many roles and had myriad responsibilities — from his early beginnings as a summer helper on the delivery truck to sales center manager for the Birmingham Home Market Department to consumer segmentation manager. In his current role, he helps the company market and merchandise its product to a broad range of consumers. Body is a Birmingham native who earned a bachelor’s degree from Miles College and a precertification in project management from Capstone Development.

Christina Sellers. (Frank Couch/The Birmingham Times)

Name: Christina Sellers

School/Subject: Huffman Academy/Kindergarten Teacher

Excerpt of Sellers’ Pitch: Genius MAP is a nonprofit organization that prepares and pairs students with the college or university of their choice through mastery, autonomy and purpose. Our mission is anchored in belief. At its heart, our program is sustained by the belief that our expectations and how students perform are positively correlated. Students and parents will meet with a MAP guide every nine weeks to select actionable items that have been made available through partnerships with schools, local organizations, universities and stakeholders to add to their current MAP module for completion. These items are generated toward their upward success and college readiness and will include ACT prep; Khan Academy; scholarship opportunities; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities; current book club choices; volunteer and leadership opportunities; video chats with their college mentor; and visits to top 100 colleges.

Caitlyn Burchfield. (contributed)

Sellers’ Partner: Caitlyn Burchfield, associate attorney, Butler Snow LLP

Her Story: Burchfield provides counsel on various aspects of commercial real estate development and financing, including public finance, acquisitions and sales, and economic development relating to multifamily housing, senior living facilities, universities and recreational and hotel developments. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama in May 2011, with majors in English and Classics, and she graduated from the UA School of Law in May 2014.

For an overview of the NextGen Pitch Competition, click here.

This story originally appeared on The Birmingham Times’ website.

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