5 Organizations Making A Difference In Alabama

Several Alabama groups dedicate time and resources to improving the lives of citizens, as well as the health of the state's communities and ecosystems. From water conservationists to exceptional hospitals, each one is a strong proponent for societal improvement and public service. In no particular order, here are some organizations advocating on behalf of Alabamians.

Kicking off the list at #1, Freshwater Land Trust conserves, connects, and cares for land and water in Central Alabama, creates green spaces, and provides the local community with trails and recreational activities, such as Jefferson County's Red Rock Trail System. The nationally accredited organization manages over 7,500 acres, making it one of the largest owners of private nature preserves in the state.

Freshwater Land Trust's ultimate goal is to promote clean water, healthy ecosystems, and natural beauty. New conservation land is acquired annually through donations and occasional purchases. Potential acreage is assessed based on five priorities: water quality protection value, biological conservation, recreational potential, connections to existing protected areas, and community priorities or impact.

At #2 is the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. The non-profit organization works to inform and improve state and local government in Alabama through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. PARCA seeks to find pragmatic ways to achieve shared community goals, such as good education, safe neighborhoods, and economic opportunity. Through debate, negotiation, and unbiased data collection, the organization helps identify solutions and pathways toward these goals.

PARCA's research initiatives involve government structure and performance, public education, finance, and workforce development. The organization provides an objective analysis of research results to state and local leaders in order to encourage informed decision-making. Elsewhere, PARCA provides the public with a data dashboard that contains statistical information on topics like taxes and education.

Coming in at #3 is Children's of Alabama. Since 1911, the Birmingham organization has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured kids. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s provides care for kids from every county in Alabama, as well as from other states and foreign countries. With more than two million square feet, the non-profit provider is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the United States.

Children's of Alabama is the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research, and residency programs. Meanwhile, the organization's Child of Children's campaign celebrates patients through the years, presenting a collection of stories that highlight the unique qualities of each kid who has received care at the facility.

Entering the list at #4, Alabama Humanities Foundation fosters learning, understanding, and appreciation of individuals, communities, and cultures within the state. Founded in 1974 as a vehicle for awarding grants to grassroots organizations in Alabama, AHF has since expanded to include various programs and events with a focus on literature, history, law, philosophy, and the arts.

AHF offers opportunities to explore the humanities through public programs, such as seminars, workshops, lectures, exhibitions, and documentaries. The annual Alabama History Day, for instance, fosters interdisciplinary academic programs focused on historical research, interpretation, and creative expression for students. From writing to film-making, students are encouraged to create unique expressions of history.

Lastly, at #5 is Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform. The non-profit, grassroots public interest group is dedicated to helping Alabamians draft a new state constitution. ACCR developed in Tuscaloosa in 2000 as part of a movement for civic renewal. According to the organization, the primary goal is to create a civic atmosphere in which politics can function for the benefit of all citizens, rather than for a few powerful interests.

The organization comprises the ACCR Foundation, which focuses on educating the public about the Alabama Constitution and underlying issues that affect the state's citizens, and ACCR Inc., which directly advocates for reform. Residents may get involved in several ways, including by becoming members or volunteering directly, while Alabama students may start a local chapter to further community engagement.