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Tuscaloosa, Alabama has a new grades 6-12 charter school, I Dream Big Academy, through a partnership with Stillman College, a private HBCU that will host the secondary school on its campus. This partnership creates a lab school environment with shared resources and dual enrollment opportunities, paving the way for future HBCU collaborations.

IDBA, which will serve 630 students at capacity, will open in fall 2025.

Adams and Reese attorneys Nash Campbell, Patrick Dungan, and Taylor Pecci assisted I Dream Big Academy with the charter process, application, and finalized contract, all unanimously approved by the Alabama Public Charter School Commission. The charter contract was officially finalized and executed on April 5, 2024.

Adams and Reese also worked with IDBA and Stillman College on the charter school-HBCU partnership as per Alabama Code, applications submitted in partnership with a national nonprofit public HBCU support organization, for a charter school to be operated on or near the campus of the HBCU, may be considered for expedited approval by the authorizer.

“For this to happen, it takes a village and a shared vision from all stakeholders. In partnership with families and community, the schools’ shared vision is to create learning opportunities for students — both inside and outside the classroom — that prepare them with the academic foundation, mindsets, and character necessary to gain access to the colleges and careers of their choice and to be successful in these endeavors,” said Campbell (citing the School’s vision), one of the leading attorneys on the Adams and Reese Education Team, and Partner in the national law firm’s Mobile office.

Campbell added: “We are appreciative of Dr. [Angela] Lang (IDBA Executive Director) entrusting Adams and Reese to assist in launching this partnership and getting it across the finish line. We look forward to being partners with I Dream Big Academy for years to come.”

“A Shared Vision Together,” Stillman College and IDBA will redesign the secondary school experience nestled amid Tuscaloosa’s West End Community.  One of the major goals of IDBA is to align with the mission of Stillman College, which was founded as an HBCU institute in 1875. Nearly 150 years later, Stillman College fosters academic excellence, provides opportunities for diverse populations, and maintains a tradition of preparing students for service by fostering experiential learning and community engagement.

“I Dream Big Academy fosters academic excellence and supports the whole child in cultivating their passions into purposeful careers by providing rigorous, relational, and relevant learning experiences that increase early access to college and workforce opportunities. Hence, students are prepared to impact their community and global society immediately,” said Lang, who was born and raised in Tuscaloosa’s West End Community and has more than 22 years of education and leadership experience. She is a 1992 graduate of Central High School and the Stillman College Upward Bound Program.

About the Adams and Reese Education Practice

Adams and Reese, through its Education Practice, has advised and represented more than 100 schools, colleges, and universities, addressing the full range of issues facing these institutions, including establishment, public bidding, bond issues, finance, student issues, faculty and employment concerns, and any other matters pertaining to their operations and legal needs.

Adams and Reese attorneys facilitate the opening of charter schools by guiding groups through the charter application process, advising on daily operational issues, assisting with the financing of the acquisition, and construction of school facilities through the issuance of tax-exempt and/or taxable bonds. Adams and Reese attorneys advocate for charter schools by drafting legislation and policy and lobbying at the local and state level, as well as representing charter schools in various study groups and assisting in the formation of charter school advocacy organizations.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), who are at the forefront of scientific, social, and medical research and achievements, hold a special place not only in our tradition and history, but also in the future of education. Adams and Reese recently launched an HBCU/MSI team within our Education Practice that provides the full range of legal support specifically tailed to HBCUs, MSIs, and other institutions focused on educating minority populations.