Program Name
Birmingham to Beijing 2013


Program Description


Close the Exposure Gap - Support Study Abroad Opportunities for Underserved Students in Birmingham, AL

For nearly a year, ambitious high school students from underserved communities in Birmingham, AL have been seeking an life-changing goal: developing basic language proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. In July 2012, investments from hundreds of supporters allowed seven of them an opportunity to study abroad for 26 days as the inaugural class of the Birmingham to Beijing Project. Watch a brief documentary film about that experience online here:

Since returning home, these young scholars expanded the impact of this initiative to their classmates: 8 students at G.W. Carver High School are currently taking formal Chinese classes on a twice-weekly basis, after school. We're now working towards a second study abroad experience in China, and we need your support to make it possible!

The Opportunity

Our Birmingham students are applying for study abroad through the Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA) Initiative. This national non-profit organization partners with urban school districts across the United States to make study abroad opportunities possible for low-income students. All candidates are accepted to the program through a competitive application process, including essays and in-person interviews before a review committee.

This initiative will change these students lives forever, setting them on a pathway towards international cultural and language competency. The experience will enable them with differentiating skills that will allow them to compete globally throughout their academic and professional lives.

   Chinese Language Class Vision

Our language course is structured similar to a Chinese 101 course that might be held in university settings: The course is led by a university instructor from a local college, uses college textbooks and workbooks, and meets for 90 minutes on a Tuesday/Thursday afternoon schedule. Students completed a competitive application process for the program and all participants voluntarily dedicate their time after school to learn this critical language.

In March 2013, 87.5 percent of the class scored proficient on the HSK Level 1 Proficiency Test for Mandarin Chinese. We now want to put these language skills to use in a cultural immersion program in China!


The Birmingham to Beijing Project qualifies for tax-deductible financial contributions thanks to a partnership with the Corps Member Education Foundation (, a national 501(c)3 that supports Teach for America teachers in their efforts to close the achievement gap for minority students in high-poverty communities across the United States. All donations to the Birmingham to Beijing Project are given directly to the Corps Member Education Foundation via this website, which then allocates 100 percent of all gifts directly to the educational program.

The Birmingham to Beijing Project is actively seeking partnerships with foundations and philanthropic organizations in Alabama to immediately create this learning opportunity for Birmingham students and invites those with interest to contact Project founder Wyatt Smith via cell at 205-523-5285 or by email at

Thanks for your interest in partnering with our students!

Other Ways You Can Help: Please help us share our story!

  • Post the Birmingham to Beijing Project Chinese Class fundraiser video on Facebook (Like our page!,Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites.
  • Ask family and friends to join our campaign!
  • If you work for a media outlet and would like to profile our students and this opportunity, make a note in your contribution and we will follow up with you!
Type of Program
TFA Region
Fundraising Goal
Grade Level
High School
Number of Students
0 - 20