Schools seek public’s help to win athletics grants

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Two area schools are in the running to receive athletics grants from Alabama Power Foundation, and they need the public’s support to win.

Jemison and Billingsley high schools are among more than 60 schools that could win a $2,500 grant for the 2015-2016 school year through the Alabama Power Foundation Power To Play grant program.

The program will award grants to 36 schools across the state.

The goal of the grants is to increase the number of students participating in high school athletics at public schools in Alabama.

Individuals can support their school(s) by going to and casting one vote per day per school classification through Nov. 21.

Alabama Power will announce Power To Play grant winners on Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Schools are divided by their classifications and Alabama Power districts.

Since Billingsley High School is in Class 1A and the Southern Division, and Jemison High School is in Class 5A and the Birmingham Division, individuals may cast votes for both schools.

“The great thing is they don’t limit you to just one vote per school,” Billingsley softball coach J.T. Lawrence said. “People could vote for both schools because they’re in different classifications. Hopefully, we can both get it.”

Lawrence said he found out about the program at an in-service meeting in August and decided to apply in hopes of helping the softball program with ongoing equipment needs.

Several days before the team was to compete in the Class 1A South Central Region Tournament in May, Lawrence discovered thousands of dollars worth of equipment had been stolen.

Although monetary donations from the community have covered some equipment replacements, Lawrence said the team is still in need of more gear for the upcoming season.

Public schools in Alabama were able to apply Aug. 4 through Sept. 14 to be considered for one of the 36 Power To Play grants.

Lawrence said the online application process required an explanation about what each school wanted to use grant funding for in athletics.

“It was an easy process to fill out the application for a good bit of money you can use for your athletic programs,” Lawrence said. “We’re grateful that Alabama Power would be willing to give [grants] away.”

Lawrence said if Billingsley receives a grant, any money not used for softball equipment could be used for the school’s weight room.

“That’s something every athlete would benefit from,” Lawrence said.

Jemison High School applied for a Power To Play grant to benefit the soccer program.

“We are going to supplement our spirit packs for the kids,” said Nikki Henley, parent of two students in the program. “We got the program up and running last year. We’re just looking for support anywhere we can get it just to keep the program going.”

Henley said spirit packs consist of a jacket, shorts, socks and other items student athletes need.

Henley said she found out about the grant on the news and reached out to Alabama Power to find out what the school needed to do to participate.

JHS Principal Allen Wilson and soccer coach Brandon Gurganus put together the grant application to submit to Alabama Power Foundation.

“Our school really needs these funds,” Henley said. “We need Jemison’s support to get this.”

By Wednesday afternoon, Billingsley had received 130 votes, and Jemison had 9,477 votes.

“We were excited to get in,” Lawrence said. “The worst they could say is no. If we didn’t get selected, we weren’t out anything.”

To vote, click here.