Second-year students at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service are currently completing their final Capstone projects, the culminating course of a program that is designed to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise. The students are enrolled in Clinton School Online, the school's online degree program.
The Capstone employs an independent study format primarily overseen by a Clinton School faculty advisor. It is the final piece of a public service curriculum with courses that include Leadership in Public Service, Data Analysis, Program Planning and Development, and Philanthropy Leadership and the Nonprofit Sector.
"The professionals who are students in our inaugural Executive Master of Public Service class are engaged in wide-ranging projects having positive organizational impact as well as enhancing their own individual careers," said Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III.
Through the Capstone project, students apply the knowledge, skills, and values gained from their Clinton School curriculum to a real-world problem or challenge. The students understand, engage, and seek to transform complex systems and produce a deliverable that meets an identified community need.
Below is a closer look at some of the projects.
Valerie Carpenter – Best Practices Review of Homeless Populations (Santa Rosa, Calif.)
Carpenter will review best practices in meeting the needs of homeless populations and will focus specifically on the city of Santa Rosa, Calif., which has a large population of homeless individuals.
Carl Carter – Beverly Carter Foundation (Little Rock, Ark.)
Carter will help establish educational safety content and relationships with real estate associations and brokerages in Arkansas that will be a part of the curriculum at Beverly Carter Foundation. Created in response to the murder of Carter’s mother, Beverly Carter, the Foundation exists to promote lone-worker safety and advocacy.
Angela Danovi – Microplastics in Ozark Waterways (Rogers, Ark.)
Danovi will develop a citizen science program identifying and quantifying plastics and microplastics in inland waterways in the Ozarks. Her project will include gathering responses about existing microplastic programs, recommending best practices, proposing methods for sample collection and analysis, and identifying potential funders.
Taylor DeMagistris – Charter High School Needs Assessment (Memphis, Tennessee)
DeMagistris will conduct a school-site needs assessment and national best practice research regarding K-12 chronic absenteeism initiatives. She will then plan and develop a tailored attendance program aimed at serving the specific needs of the school’s student body in order to increase attendance rates and decrease rates of chronic absenteeism.
Lisa Denig – NYS Office of Court Administration (New York, New York)
Denig will create and implement Presumptive Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in all civil court cases in New York City. Under the direction of the Chief Judge of New York State, all civil litigants will be required to try some form of ADR (early settlement conferencing, mediation, non-binding arbitration, etc.) before they proceed through traditional litigation.
Melissa Dixon – Children International (Little Rock, Ark.)
Dixon is working with Children International's Little Rock field site to create a facilitation manual for one of their empowerment programs. The program is titled iLEAD (Institute for Leadership Empowerment and Asset Development) and is developed for use with 6th-8th grade students. The program works with youth to develop and apply essential life skills through innovative programming.
Ben Grimes – The Breach (North Little Rock, Ark.)
Grimes’ project is a program design. He is articulating the formation and operation of a theatre company, The Breach, that addresses common veteran and service members struggles and issues through theatre and storytelling.
Cinthya Harris – Heifer International (Uganda and Tanzania)
This exploratory study will identify best practices, challenges and successes of Heifer’s youth programming in Uganda and Tanzania to inform strategies promoting rural youth entrepreneurship in Heifer’s projects.
Eulea Kiraly – Arkansas Department of Corrections, Varner Unit Prison (Gould, Ark.)
Kiraly will conduct a needs assessment with correctional officers at this large prison that houses death row. Chronic staff shortages continue to restrict rehabilitation efforts with inmates. Kiraly’s work will focus on mid-level management leadership capacities using the National Institute of Corrections’ standards. Her final report to the unit and DOC will include any officer-identified training needs.
Kathryn Ling – GLSEN (New York, New York)
Ling is designing a Racial Equity Fellowship for GLSEN, a national LGBTQ+ educational equity organization, with the purpose of increasing the capacity of its hundreds of regional chapter leaders to integrate racial justice within their LGBTQ+ advocacy.
Andrew Newell – Operation Mercy (Xinjiang, China)
Newell will complete a process evaluation on an ongoing high-altitude greenhouse development program serving Pamiri farmers living above 2800 meters to create better food security and nutritional access.
Levi Rogers – Undisclosed Philadelphia High School (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Rogers is researching chronic absenteeism rates nationwide, with a focus on high poverty schools. He is compiling research on effective interventions and working to implement these interventions in a high poverty high school in West Philadelphia.
Kristina Root Carranza – Mississippi River State Park (Marianna, Ark.)
Root Carranza will conduct a pilot study to help evaluate and describe Mississippi River State Park's quality of life impact. The study will focus on the park's visitors and the local community. The pilot study will be used to help create a department-wide method of monitoring its efforts towards the department's mission and goals.
Gabrielle Russ Ebah – Arkansas Immerse (Little Rock, Ark.)
Russ Ebah will conduct a research project to help determine why rates of pregnancy and parenting in young adults with histories of foster care are elevated compared with young adults in the general population. To advance the current body of research she will examine the relationship between pregnancy and contraceptive use attitudes among young adults with foster care experience. Once the project is finished recommendations for mentors who support youth from crisis will be provided.
Caroline Sykes – Together For Yes (Dublin, Ireland)
Sykes will approach her qualitative study through a feminist theoretical lens, pointing to policies that affect social justice for women and providing information about oppressive situations. Sykes will explore the views pro-choice Irish women activists have about their impact on the vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment abortion ban in the Irish Constitution and the possibility of translating their YES campaign success to Arkansas, a state with severe restrictions on abortion. She will interview activists in both Ireland and Arkansas.
Renee Tyler – City of Dubuque’s Public Transit Agency (Dubuque, Iowa)
Tyler will conduct a research project to help determine how to stop the decline in Dubuque’s bus ridership. She will examine the impact that zero fare and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) has had on The Jule’s ridership. Findings will be used to create recommendations for an action plan intent on reversing this decline.
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