Alabama-Korea Education and Economic Partnership (A-KEEP)

Alabama-Korea Education and Economic Partnership (A-KEEP)

AKEEP evolved from an Educational Exchange Program for Alabama and Korean high school students – Hwarang Global Youth Leadership Program to a global partnership facilitator and key cultural component in Alabama. We designed several curriculums for non-speakers to gain a solid foundation of the Korean language and culture in

Alabama-Korea Education and Economic Partnership (A-KEEP)

AKEEP was formed in 2011 with an educational Memorandum Of Understanding [MOU] between the State Department of Education and Korea’s Gyeongbuk Providential Department of Education. Currently, the State Superintendent holds the Executive Board’s Chairman position with representatives from local school districts, colleges and universities, and State agencies that serve underreached families in schools. AKEEP was formed in 2011 with an educational Memorandum Of Understanding [MOU] between the State Department of Education and Korea’s Gyeongbuk Providential Department of Education. Currently, the State Superintendent holds the Executive Board’s Chairman position with representatives from local school districts, colleges and universities, and State agencies that serve underreached families in schools. Meesoon Han, Executive Director is a former college professor of 17 years and facilitated solid partnerships between the US and Korean universities and organizations. She led a successful campaign to pass ALABAMA ACT 2016-217 in the Alabama State Legislature which officially endorsed and encouraged the mission and work of AKEEP. To address teacher shortages is the successful STEM Program that provides professional training to STEM teachers from South Korea to teach STEM subjects in Alabama. This year, 25 interns participated in Montgomery schools. Lastly January 2022 she was honored and named “Community Hero” for the city of Montgomery, AL. AKEEP has built credible programs with curricula, lesson plans, and materials that met the prestigious quality of the STARTALK Grant Program (a joint effort by the National Security Agency) since 2018. As of 2022, AKEEP is one of 40 STARTALK grantees to be awarded funding for a year-round and summer critical language and culture program called Catch The K-Wave. This summer’s 2022 camp, Pike Road Schools district can offer an option for a half unit elective course credit for qualified secondary students. We also provided an accredited curriculum and recruit the teachers for high school students to receive foreign language credit for Korean 1. With continuous federal and state grant awards and partnerships from the National Endowment of the Arts, Alabama State Council on the Arts and Troy University, AKEEP hosts various cultural education programs. The Bridge of Unity in Diversity (BUD) annual programs include 2-3 cultural workshops and an annual community theater for students and community participants. Our success at local schools, libraries, community centers, and especially at the historic Davis Theatre has gained additional support from other local community non-profit organizations who respect our efforts and donate resources for further development and growth for Alabamians

About the Organization:

AKEEP was formed in 2011 with an educational Memorandum Of Understanding [MOU] between the State Department of Education and Korea’s Gyeongbuk Providential Department of Education. Currently, the State Superintendent holds the Executive Board’s Chairman position with representatives from local school districts, colleges and universities, and State agencies that serve underreached families in schools. AKEEP was formed in 2011 with an educational Memorandum Of Understanding [MOU] between the State Department of Education and Korea’s Gyeongbuk Providential Department of Education. Currently, the State Superintendent holds the Executive Board’s Chairman position with representatives from local school districts, colleges and universities, and State agencies that serve underreached families in schools. Meesoon Han, Executive Director is a former college professor of 17 years and facilitated solid partnerships between the US and Korean universities and organizations. She led a successful campaign to pass ALABAMA ACT 2016-217 in the Alabama State Legislature which officially endorsed and encouraged the mission and work of AKEEP. To address teacher shortages is the successful STEM Program that provides professional training to STEM teachers from South Korea to teach STEM subjects in Alabama. This year, 25 interns participated in Montgomery schools. Lastly January 2022 she was honored and named “Community Hero” for the city of Montgomery, AL. AKEEP has built credible programs with curricula, lesson plans, and materials that met the prestigious quality of the STARTALK Grant Program (a joint effort by the National Security Agency) since 2018. As of 2022, AKEEP is one of 40 STARTALK grantees to be awarded funding for a year-round and summer critical language and culture program called Catch The K-Wave. This summer’s 2022 camp, Pike Road Schools district can offer an option for a half unit elective course credit for qualified secondary students. We also provided an accredited curriculum and recruit the teachers for high school students to receive foreign language credit for Korean 1. With continuous federal and state grant awards and partnerships from the National Endowment of the Arts, Alabama State Council on the Arts and Troy University, AKEEP hosts various cultural education programs. The Bridge of Unity in Diversity (BUD) annual programs include 2-3 cultural workshops and an annual community theater for students and community participants. Our success at local schools, libraries, community centers, and especially at the historic Davis Theatre has gained additional support from other local community non-profit organizations who respect our efforts and donate resources for further development and growth for Alabamians

organizational budget

$500,000 - $1 MILLION

existence for

6-10 YEARS

The Issue:

Korean is considered a critical language which is essential to U.S. national security and economic prosperity, and it is crucial that Alabama students are given the opportunity to learn and understand Korean language and culture. Alabama has a unique Korean population, which dramatically increased in the past 15+ years due to major Korean companies such as Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama opening its first U.S. plant. Since then, there has been an influx of numerous Korean supplier companies, thousands of workers and families settling in Alabama. Two countries have merged economically to advance their products and services for their customers and citizens; however, some barriers came with this union - like culture, language and viewpoints that make it a challenge. We believe that when great minds come together, we can achieve more than what is possible alone. AKEEP recruits policymakers, educators, and problem solvers to expand leadership in classrooms, workplaces and communities to ensure Alabamians and Alabama’s migrant communities are supplied with resources needed to fulfill their potential. Our mission as a non-profit is to build a “bridge of unity” by providing educational programs and services from Korea to Alabama for cultural harmony in work, play and educating one another. We work with members of the community to enable students, professionals, organizations and corporations of Alabama and Korea to take full advantage of the opportunities of growing economic ties between the two regions, which are accomplished through AKEEP’s leadership programs and facilitation efforts. For 10 years, AKEEP has worked closely with influential community members to determine the most pressing burdens on educational, economic, and cultural inequity in Alabama. We take direct action to bridge divisions in the community, schools, and workplace that stem from ignorance, miscommunication, and poor quality of life due to lack of diversified opportunities. As change agents and global partnership facilitators, we aspire to give our community the tools they need for cross-cultural engagement, inspire creativity, and disrupt the status quo for transformational change.

The Solution:

AKEEP evolved from an Educational Exchange Program for Alabama and Korean high school students – Hwarang Global Youth Leadership Program to a global partnership facilitator and key cultural component in Alabama. We designed several curriculums for non-speakers to gain a solid foundation of the Korean language and culture in the K-12 school system, Community KSL classes, and an after-school program that is now offered during school hours for students in 2nd through 12th grades. Fast approaching is the ability to offer online KSL courses. AKEEP receives a prestigious grant that funds our Korean language summer camp called STARTALK: Catch the K-Wave and Its curriculum for the year-round classes are currently in five schools in the Montgomery area . This 3-week summer program is an intensive language and cultural learning experience for rising 6th to seniors that is fun-packed and students ( depending on level of performance ) are offered an option for half (1/2) unit elective course credit through the host school district. This academic year (2021-22), our Korean 1 course for high school students earned them one (1) Carnegie unit in foreign language. A solution for Alabama’s STEM teacher shortage was addressed when AKEEP facilitated the communications and program development that resulted in a 4-way Agreement between the Korean Ministry of Education, AKEEP, Alabama’s Commission on Higher Education, and State Department of Education to establish a partnership to create a pilot educator placement program to recruit surplus STEM teachers from three Korean Universities. With grant awards, we host various cultural education programs led by experienced Performing and Visual Artists. Bridge of Unity in Diversity [BUD] is an annual Community Theater performance of a Korean folktale; visual arts exhibition of Korean traditional arts made available as instructional workshops and demonstrations, at no cost to students and community members. AKEEP’s Helpline is a Language Service between English and Korean either an oral interpretation or a document translation for Alabama residents. We help by request and at no charge to educational services and residents to overcome language and cultural barriers. As pioneers of progress, we will continue exploring growth opportunities.

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