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Birmingham Sister Cities Launches Innovative International Dual Enrollment Academy

Updated: Apr 9

Birmingham Sister Cities, in partnership with Miles College and Birmingham City Schools, is proud to announce the launch of the International Dual Enrollment Academy (IDEA), a groundbreaking global studies program designed to equip Birmingham students with the skills, experiences, and relationships needed to thrive in our interconnected world.

The IDEA program blends dual enrollment coursework at Miles College, extensive cultural enrichment activities, and an immersive travel-abroad experience. This year, the inaugural cohort is heading to Japan. Participating students will earn nine college credit hours, receive a stipend of at least $500 upon successful completion, and have the opportunity to attend the Sister Cities International Youth Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

"International exposure and international opportunity are critical factors in students' college and career readiness," said Jessica Findley Valentin, Interim Executive Director of Birmingham Sister Cities. "IDEA aims to provide Birmingham students with the tools they need to compete on the world stage and become global ambassadors for our city."

"The International Dual Enrollment Academy is more than just a travel abroad program; it is an investment in the future of Birmingham and our world. Birmingham Sister Cities is committed to ensuring that this program has a lasting impact on our students, our schools, and our global community," said Blair Minyard, Board Chair of Birmingham Sister Cities.

"The International Dual Enrollment Academy is a testament to Birmingham's commitment to providing our students with world-class educational opportunities," said Mayor Randall Woodfin. "This innovative program will not only prepare our young people for success in a global economy but also help to position Birmingham as a leader in international education."

Dr. Mark Sullivan, Superintendent of Birmingham City Schools, added, "We are thrilled to partner with Birmingham Sister Cities and Miles College to offer this transformative program to our students. IDEA aligns perfectly with our mission to help students achieve excellence while preparing them to succeed in a global society."

"Miles College is honored to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative," said President Bobbie Knight. "Through the International Dual Enrollment Academy, we are not only expanding access to higher education but also equipping students with the global perspective and cross-cultural skills that are essential for success in today's interconnected world."

The inaugural IDEA cohort will consist of up to 15 high-achieving Birmingham City Schools juniors and sophomores. Applications are open from March 15 to April 19, 2024, with the program running from May 6 to December 11, 2024.

For more information about the International Dual Enrollment Academy, visit or contact Birmingham Sister Cities at



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