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Three Local Foundations Aid in Building a Place for all AIDB Students to Gather

By Heather Jeffcoat

 A graphic rendering of the new AIDB Student Life and Conference Center.At Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), what is deemed impossible happens every day with the help of the AIDB Foundation. Since its inception in 1980, the AIDB Foundation has worked tirelessly to raise private support for the Institute’s charitable, educational and training programs, creating opportunities and providing normalcy for every individual who relies on AIDB.

Through Foundation support, AIDB has been able to expand facilities, bring innovative technology to Alabama and deliver limitless opportunities to the main campus and each of its ten regional centers. The next Foundation project is the AIDB Student Life and Conference Center, which would become a space where students from the Alabama School for the Blind, the Alabama School for the Deaf, the Helen Keller School of Alabama, and the E. H. Gentry Facility will be able to join in on activities.

“It has been a dream for AIDB to create a space for all students and staff from all campuses to gather together for large inclusive events,” said AIDB President Dr. Dennis Gilliam. “And, with the help of the Foundation and those donating to the Foundation, we are going to make that dream a reality.”

The new facility will be used for academic competitions, art and music shows, as well as social opportunities such as club meetings, proms and dances. It would ensure all AIDB students can participate in cultural, academic, social and recreational programs that will enhance their individual social competency and group effectiveness. It will also allow for synergetic, professional development opportunities for the faculty across all departments and campuses.

With the recent help of three Alabama-based nonprofits’ donations to the AIDB Foundation, that dream of the AIDB Student Life and Conference Center is closer to becoming a reality.

Staci Brown Brooks, Vice President of Charitable Giving for Alabama Power, smiles to camera, the AL Power logo behind her.THE ALABAMA POWER FOUNDATION’S DONATION HELPS BUILD A PLACE FOR AIDB COMMUNITY

The Alabama Power Foundation’s mission is to assist nonprofit partners by providing volunteers and organizational, promotional and financial support.

“The Alabama Power Company was founded in 1906 to be of service to the state of Alabama. Our long-term partnership with AIDB through employee volunteer efforts and the Alabama Power Foundation, reflects our commitment of elevating the state by ensuring quality education is provided to all Alabamians regardless of circumstance. It is an honor to work alongside the AIDB team in identifying solutions to barriers that may otherwise prevent students from experiencing the highest-level educational environment available. It is a privilege to support the development of this multi-use facility that will make a positive impact on those served at the AIDB campus, as well as individuals and organizations from across the region,” said Terry Smiley, Vice President of Eastern Division for Alabama Power and also a member of the AIDB Foundation board.

“The Alabama Power Foundation is proud to support AIDB as it provides transformative opportunities and education to more than 31,000 Alabamians of all ages with hearing and vision loss. This grant will help AIDB build a world-class facility and bring all their students and faculty together in an inclusive, welcoming space. Our team recognized the value a place like this brings to those served by AIDB, its staff, and the Talladega community,” said Staci Brown Brooks, Vice President of Charitable Giving for Alabama Power Company and President of the Alabama Power Foundation.

Alabama Power is excited to be a part of the growth of AIDB and the new development of the AIDB Student Life and Conference Center.

“AIDB is an incredible asset to our state and all its people. The Institute is a unique leader. It provides comprehensive programs and helps those with hearing and vision loss reach their full potential,” said Brooks. “The services and support they provide align closely with the Alabama Power Foundation’s mission to make life better for all Alabamians and move the state forward. It is my hope AIDB will continue to grow and flourish in Alabama, transforming the lives of those served by giving them the tools, platforms, and access to reach their potential. I look forward to seeing the impact they make in 2024 and beyond.”

“Alabama Power’s support means so much to AIDB. We are honored that they continue to partner with our students and staff, providing a way for each to grow. They are making an impact on our future,” said Becky Watson, Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement at AIDB.

The Daniel Foundation of Alabama logo. Text of company name with the outline of Alabama to the left that includes "D.F."THE DANIEL FOUNDATION HAS SIGHTS ON BIG CHANGE FOR AIDB CAMPUS

The Daniel Foundation of Alabama has believed in the mission of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) for more than 40 years. It is their continued support and passion that is now helping to create the new student center.

The Daniel Foundation aims to strengthen communities within Alabama and improve the quality of life for citizens from all regions of Alabama by supporting the non-profit sector across the state. They desire to be a piece of the puzzle that allows an organization to meet their goals, especially those organizations based in the rural areas of Alabama.

Executive Director of The Daniel Foundation Maria Kennedy values their time-tested partnership with AIDB. Their generous donation will go in support of the construction of the AIDB Student Life and Conference Center. They believe the new AIDB Student Life and Conference Center will bring the community and AIDB together, offering not only this as a resource to the students and staff at AIDB but also to the City of Talladega.

“The Daniel Foundation of Alabama has a long history with AIDB, going back more than 40 years. We appreciate the opportunity to support their work and invest in a facility that will benefit AIDB and the surrounding community. We hope this facility helps enrich the sense of family among AIDB populations and services and becomes a catalyst for community gatherings,” said Kennedy.

“The Daniel Foundation of Alabama desires to support projects and organizations that lead to a better quality of life for Alabama citizens,” she said. “The comprehensive services provided by AIDB lead to an increased quality of life for those with vision and hearing loss. AIDB’s level of service to this population is unmatched by other organizations, with regional centers which help to create access to services across our state.”

“We are extremely grateful for the well-established support we have seen from The Daniel Foundation. Their recent support will directly impact the students who utilize the AIDB Student Life and Conference Center,” said Becky Watson, Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement at AIDB.


The continued support of The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has opened doors and paved new paths for Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) faculty and students.

The Caring Foundation’s mission focuses on improving the health and well-being of Alabamians by investing in charitable organizations across the state. After one inspiring campus tour to AIDB, it was clear to Tim King, Manager-Community Relations at BCBS of Alabama, that AIDB was a community they wanted to be a part of and see grow.

“We did a team site visit with them in the Fall of 2023, and we were all blown away with the people and services we witnessed. It was a very moving and memorable time, and it solidified our belief that our support was worth the investment. AIDB is one of the jewels of our state," said King. "The services and programming they provide to the diverse amount of people is inspiring. Their reputation is far and wide. We are fortunate to have them in our state.”

The Caring Foundation sees the vision of the AIDB Student Life and Conference Center and is excited to be part of the build to create the multi-purpose facility that will have a large auditorium, state-of-the-art technology and multiple meeting spaces in an assortment of sizes.

“One of our corporate values is giving back to the community. We try to positively impact the health, wellness and education of Alabamians. We depend on excellent partners like AIDB to collaborate with and improve our state, so it can be a better place for our children and grandchildren,” said King. “AIDB’s commitment to education, rehabilitation and employment programs for people who have disability challenges is outstanding and noteworthy. The AIDB Student Life and Conference Center is another vital piece of their commitment to their mission, and we are honored to be a part of this important project,” continued King.

“We are incredibly thankful for the support from The Caring Foundation. Their support will help take our students and staff to the next level, creating real change for their future,” said Becky Watson, Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement at AIDB.