Nine teams of first-year students from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will complete public service projects in partnership with public agencies, community initiatives, academic ventures, and nonprofit organizations across Arkansas during the 2020-21 academic year.
As part of the school’s Master of Public Service degree program, the students will earn academic credit for their work on the projects that include researching what attracts young professionals to Little Rock, understanding the challenges families are facing as they work to support their children’s education during the COVID-19 pandemic, and conducting a comparative study of equity of the state of Black Arkansas residents over the past quarter-century.
“What makes the Clinton School unique from other more traditional graduate programs is the field service work,” said Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III. “In collaboration with community organizations, our students will help meet some important needs in Arkansas.”
The projects are part of the Clinton School’s Practicum program, the first of three public service projects completed during the two-year master’s degree program.
The Clinton School students will participate in the projects, while also completing coursework on topics such as program planning and development, field research, and communication.
Arkansas-based organizations that are interested in partnering with the Clinton School on future projects should contact Hilary Trudell, Director of Local Programs and Regional Outreach with the Office of Community Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a closer look at each of the nine projects.
Team: Maria Calderon (Houston, Texas), Claire Cockrell (Little Rock, Ark.), Ashley Figueroa (Las Vegas, Nev.), Steve Foster (Little Rock, Ark.), Dorothy Spector (Miami, Fla.)
DecARcerate works to end mass incarceration in Arkansas through community education, smart legislation, advocacy, and empowering the leadership of individuals personally affected.
Students will use interview and survey data to compile a report examining the collateral consequences of Pulaski County's court debt system. Through quantitative data, the report will explore the ways court debt undermines public safety and furthers racial and class divides.
Team: Beth Downs (Indianapolis, Ind.), Aaron Kennard (Dallas, Texas), Felicia Kennedy (Portland, Ark.), Arianna Kiaei (Little Rock, Ark.), Jasmine Reaves (Sacramento, Calif.)
Create Little Rock, an initiative of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, is the young professionals’ organization for the Little Rock region. Its mission is to attract and retain young professionals through meaningful programming and engagement, and to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth through networking, educational programming, leadership opportunities and civic engagement.
Students will conduct research to assess what attracts young professionals (21-40) to the Little Rock area, what is currently retaining them, and the resources and opportunities needed to retain them for longer. Indicators will include economic, education, and quality of life.
Team: Colton Denton (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Jeff Fetters (Ames, Iowa), Michael King (Fayetteville, Ark.), Cecilia Trotter (Greenville, Miss.), Nancy Velazquez (Little Rock, Ark.)
A community college located in Beebe, Ark., Arkansas State University, Beebe is transforming lives through quality learning experiences.
Students will conduct research to better understand what perceptions or barriers prevent high school graduates from continuing their education post high school. Students will collect data from current or recently graduated students from local school districts in rural counties in Arkansas.
Team: Jackson Bittner (Ottawa, Ill.), Dylan Lofton (Saginaw, Texas), Eleanor Miller (Port Orchard, Wash.), Khloe Shuffield (Little Rock, Ark.), Bonnie Stribling (Russellville, Ark.)
The Central Arkansas ReEntry Coalition (CARE) is comprised of members who support the day-to-day work of assisting those in transition from incarceration, homelessness, and other life events back into the community.
Students will conduct a comparative study of equity of the state of Black Arkansas from 1995 to 2020, relative to the general population, using the lenses of housing, economics, health, education (K-12/College), and incarceration.
Team: Amanda Cady (Easton, Mass.), Layne Coleman (Little Rock, Ark.), David Lewis (Sunnydale, Ark.), Oluwaseun Olaniyi (Lagos State, Nigeria), Essence Thomas (DeSoto, Texas)
The Little Rock Congregations Study, which engages students in learning about religious organizations in Little Rock, seeks to understand how congregational community engagement impacts the community, places of worship, and their members.
Students on this project will be working with places of worship and nonprofit organizations in Little Rock to facilitate collaboration on critical community issues. Using local data, students will help bring organizations together to address topics like education, homelessness, race relations, and income inequality.
Team: Katelynn Caple (Benton, Ark.), Brenttia Clayton (Osceola, Ark.), Haley Gilliam (North Little Rock, Ark.), Randall King (Dallas, Texas), Maya Williams (Little Rock, Ark.)
ZUNI Learning Tree is a grassroots movement promoting the passion for lifelong learning and achieving not only as a student, but more importantly as a compassionate human being, making it simple for teachers, students, and parents to learn about new tools, acquire new skills, be inspired with new ideas, and to gain confidence in their ability to learn, grow, and do.
COVID-19 has increased the challenges and added new variables that may or may not impede learning for students. Students will conduct research to understand the challenges families are facing as they work to support their kids learning in the coming year both at school, virtually, and at home.
Team: Ralph Bray (Portland, Ore.), Michael Brown (Little Rock, Ark.), Madeline Burke (Little Rock, Ark.), Camille Gilmore (Little Rock, Ark.), ReAsia McKissick (Little Rock, Ark.)
The City of Little Rock Purchasing Division is a centralized purchasing office that has the responsibility to locate and secure materials, supplies, equipment, and related services as required by various Departments within the City of Little Rock.
Students will research best practices for increasing minority (WBME) vendor participation and contract spending by surveying, interviewing, and engaging with current and potential minority vendors. Students will present recommendations and anecdotal evidence that communicate the current and potential realities for vendor participation and spending.
Team: Ophelia Akoto (Kumasi, Ghana), Elizabeth Bloom (Philadelphia, Pa.), Katie Knutter (Healdton, Okla.), Stevie Massey (Conway, Ark.)
The mission of the Newport Economic Development Commission is to facilitate an environment that will be conducive to economic growth and stability. The commission works to enhance, promote, and create increased opportunities for economic well-being by developing and implementing strategies that will improve quality of life, community aesthetics, and encourage new investment in Newport and Jackson County.
Students will conduct research to determine barriers to women participating in the Jackson County workforce. This research will also include best practices research to determine how other communities have successfully reduced the relevant barriers to increase participation in the workforce.
Team: Amanda Cruce (New Orleans, La.), Emily Fendley (Monticello, Ark.), Demetrious Jordan (West Helena, Ark.), Rodrigo Santos Legaspi (El Paso, Texas), Austin Slater (Woodlawn, Ark.), Delaney Vogt (Oak Park, Ill.)
The Central Arkansas Library System provides resources and services to help residents reach their full potential, and to inspire discovery, learning, and cultural expression.
Students will conduct a public opinion survey to measure local views and attitudes on homelessness, hunger, and poverty.
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.