University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service students have combined to complete more than 1,000 field service projects in Arkansas, across the United States, and around the world.
The combined work of Clinton School students has produced 367,535 hours – or more than 42 years – of civic engagement. Of the completed field service projects, 371 were based in Arkansas. Students have completed projects in 92 countries, nearly half of the U.S. State Department’s recognized independent states. Forty-four projects are in progress this fall.
"The Clinton School's model of leadership through civic engagement is unique among graduate programs,” said James L. “Skip” Rutherford III, Dean of the Clinton School. “With high graduation rates, high career placement rates, significant community impact and student affordability, project-based learning at the Clinton School is redefining graduate school education."
The Clinton School offers a practical approach to learning through the combination of coursework and for-credit field service projects. The Clinton School became the first public service program to integrate field service as an academic credit, with about 25% percent of the MPS degree curriculum coming from direct field service learning.
Clinton School students enrolled in the Master of Public Service degree program complete three for-credit public service projects, both domestically and abroad.
The Practicum Project is a team-based initiative during the first year that takes students into Arkansas communities to partner with organizations chosen by the Clinton School to foster community development and social change. The International Public Service Project places students with international organizations across the world during the summer after their first year. The Capstone Project is the culminating field service effort, providing second-year students with an opportunity to complete an in-depth public service project to benefit a government, for-profit, or nonprofit agency of their choosing.
Additionally, students enrolled in the Clinton School’s online degree program complete a Capstone project as the culmination of their degree work. Twenty-nine of these projects are currently underway.
Many Clinton School students have been hired by organizations they partnered with on public service projects. Nearly 85% of alumni surveyed stated that their field service experiences increased their employability. These projects not only provide practical experience, they foster networking opportunities with domestic and international public service partners.
Numerous projects and partnerships showcase long-term impacts.
Fursa is a Swahili word meaning “opportunity.” Founded by Clinton School graduate Wambui Ngugi in 2008 as part of her final Capstone project, Fursa-Opportunity is a community-based organization built to empower Kenyan youth. Now active for more than 11 years, the organization has partnered with the Kenyan government to bring awareness to political issues including unemployment, the country’s constitution, and voter rights and registration.
Fursa-Opportunity also partners with other organizations such as the African Youth Trust and National Youth Council.
When Ngugi passed away unexpectedly in June 2018, her sister took over control of the organization. It continues to thrive, with more than 20 volunteers, a four-person board, and defined roles for each member of the organization.
Thanks in part to the efforts of a team of first-year Clinton School students in 2017-18, parents of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will be able to be present and involved in their child’s hospitalization through the creation of a Ronald McDonald Family Room.
A Practicum team from the Clinton School evaluated opportunities for program expansion and presented findings to the RMHCA board and staff leadership in April 2018. Their report included an unexpected, immediate need for services for families with a baby in the NICU at UAMS.
RMHCA anticipates serving nearly 1,000 NICU families each year through the new Family Room, which will include day services and housing four families each night. The addition will provide respite, a good night’s rest, and so much more for families, just steps away from their infants.
Awamaki creates lasting impacts in the remote mountains of Peru by helping rural Andean women’s associations launch successful small businesses. Awamaki invests in women’s skills, connects them to market access, and supports their leadership so they can increase their income and transform their communities.
Awamaki has hosted nine Clinton School students since 2016, and their various work includes executing a bi-annual demographic survey, revising and implementing an economic impact interview, and developing a series of empowerment workshops. One Clinton School student’s efforts helped connect Awamaki to funds that were put toward building an artisan textile center in a remote community in the Sacred Valley of Peru.
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.