UA HomeFirst Program Recognized by International Town and Gown Association

Two women standing holding an award

Dr. Nicole Prewitt, right, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, accepts a 2022 ITGA Presidential Excellence Award recognizing UA’s HomeFirst Program.

Photo courtesy of Clemson University

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

At the recent annual conference of the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA), held at Clemson University, The University of Alabama’s HomeFirst program received a 2022 ITGA Presidential Excellence Award. Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of programs and partnerships for community engagement at UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), accepted the award.

“HomeFirst exemplifies a volunteer effort that contributes to the quality of life in our community by supporting each participant’s path toward homeownership by focusing on core areas related to homebuyer readiness and foreclosure prevention through financial capability, including savings, money management, access to banking, credit building and debt reduction,” Prewitt said.

Housed in CCBP, HomeFirst is a financial wellness initiative that serves Greene, Hale, and Tuscaloosa County individuals and families on their path toward first-time homeownership or foreclosure prevention.

“The ultimate purpose of the HomeFirst program is to expand the pool of eligible homeowners by improving financial capability, and we are so honored to extend the university’s resources to serve the people of Alabama,” Prewitt added.

Since 2017, HomeFirst has served more than 150 individuals and families on the path to homeownership over the life of the program. Since Prewitt took the helm of HomeFirst in 2019, HomeFirst has served 123 of those 150 households, and 31 HomeFirst coaches have logged more than 432 coaching meetings with community participants. On average, participants enter with a 4.53 financial capability scale (FCS) score and exit with a 6.14 FCS. This progress is comparable to financial coaching programs offered by professionals.

“It was excellent for the program to receive the award and really shows how others value our work,” said James Renshaw, program coordinator for programs and partnerships for community engagement at CCBP. “We believe that HomeFirst is an amazing program that can really make a huge difference in so many lives. The fact that ITGA, and many others at the conference, have viewed the work and agreed with us really feels like a great accomplishment.”

ITGA is a global non-profit association dedicated to strengthening town-gown partnerships through college campus and community interests. The ITGA Presidential Excellence Award is a way to highlight ITGA members who demonstrate exceptional performance in one of the following areas: volunteer service, leadership, or educational achievement in town-gown communities or for ITGA. The ITGA Presidential Excellence Award is presented annually at the ITGA Conference.

More than 250 attendees representing multiple states and countries — including Canada and the United Kingdom — were in attendance to share best practices and identify opportunities
for improving town-and-gown relationships.

The event attracted individuals representing a broad spectrum of affiliations in higher education, as well as city administrators, council members, law enforcement, department directors, CEOs and executive directors representing 10 nonprofits, 26 private sector organizations, 76 cities, towns and boroughs, and 150 universities and colleges.