Nine teams of 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 2016-2017 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, which include efforts to end senior hunger in Arkansas, enhance services provided to children and families, eliminate housing barriers for previously incarcerated individuals, and develop economic opportunities through the arts, among others.
Organizations partnering with the Clinton School on the projects are located throughout Arkansas including Conway, Hope, and Roland. Some projects are statewide in scope.
“What distinguishes the Clinton School’s academic curriculum from more traditional graduate programs is the project work our students complete all over Arkansas, the country and the world,” said Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford. “These nine new team-based initiatives not only will provide students with important professional experiences, but will result in long-term positive impact for people, communities, and organizations.”
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.
Forty Clinton School students will participate in the projects during their first year while also completing in-class coursework on topics such as program planning and development, field research, and communication.
The 2016-2017 Clinton School Student Team-Based Projects:
Develop case studies on communities’ efforts to stop summer reading loss
Partner Organization: Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Reading
Team: Reggie Ballard (Little Rock, Ark.), Thaddeus Smith (Little Rock, Ark.), Colby Qualls (Monette, Ark.), and Brittney Dennis (Little Rock, Ark.)
Children who do not have access to quality summer learning programs can be 2.5 to 3 years behind their peers by the time they reach fifth grade, even if they are learning at the same rate during the school year. Through the Arkansas Community Foundation’s Summer Learning Initiative (SLI), five communities have developed and are implementing efforts to stop this summer learning loss. The practicum team will work with the Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Reading to complete a series of case studies, one for each of the five communities. Students will use mixed methods, primarily qualitative data collection and secondary data analysis, to create narratives for each site. The case studies will be used to make improvements to the grant-making process and support provided to grantees, assess the efficacy of each project, and support a case to policymakers for funding summer and after school programs.
Develop comprehensive report of effectiveness of Arkansas GardenCorps: A nutrition education and gardening program focused on obesity reduction
Partner Organization: Arkansas Children’s Research Institute
Team: Catherine Campos (Miami, Fla.), Madeline Chaisson (Slidell, La.), and Nick Stevens (Jacksonville, Ark.)
The Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute is a statewide program designed to promote the use of school and community gardens to provide nutrition education, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and opportunities for physical activity with the purpose of reducing childhood obesity and increasing environmental awareness and sustainable agriculture practices in Arkansas communities. The student team will assist in reviewing and aggregating all existing data from this program, as well as collect additional qualitative data from various identified stakeholders, to document program effectiveness The team will produce a comprehensive Five Year Summary Report and brief Executive Summary that will be used to 1) develop funding and additional program support 2) attract potential service members and 3) draw interest from potential service host sites (i.e. schools, community organizations).
Case study on the relationship between rural electrification and community development
Partner Organization: Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation
Team: Josh Snyder (Glendale, Ariz.), Paxton Richardson (Fall City, Wash.), Amie Alexander (Waldron, Ark.), Fiona O’Leary Sloan (Seattle, Wash.), and Emily Smith (Little Rock, Ark.)
Students will work with Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation to create a comprehensive multi-media, oral history project capturing stories of rural electrification and rural community development. The team will collect information directly from residents served by Arkansas’ 17 electric distribution cooperatives, in order to document and preserve those historical experiences, and provide case study evidence for rural development best practices. The final product will include video productions, including narration, in both feature-length (2 hours or less) and vignette format. The video(s) will be used for education and promotional purposes statewide. The case study report will comprehensively document the relationship between rural electrification and community development as a means for ensuring rural communities continue to thrive.
Create statewide foodbank member agency succession plans
Partner Organization: Arkansas Foodbank
Team: Rebecca Agyei (Kumasi, Ghana), Darlynton Adegor (Delta, Nigeria), Susanna Creed (Monrovia, Calif.), Starre Haas (Little Rock, Ark.)
Through its efforts to fight hunger in Arkansas, the Arkansas Foodbank is attempting to build the capacity of its member agencies in their 33 county device area. While many agencies thrive with the right leadership and administration, AR Foodbank has seen agencies fail and close when that leader leaves his or her position. Most agencies do not have a plan for succession when this key person or persons are no longer there to run their program. The organization’s goal is to increase the sustainability of the agencies by facilitating the creation of succession plans. This will include organizing operational information and training additional staff and/or volunteers in agency operations. The student team will conduct research using mixed methods to develop agency succession plans. The resulting deliverables will be included in a resource manual for agencies both locally and nationally, and will also be included as an organizational workshop topic.
Gap analysis to determine the best way to disseminate parent resources
Partner Organization: Centers for Youth and Families
Team: Mollie Henager (Conway, Ark.), Ravyn Towns (Memphis, Tenn.), Domenick Lasorsa (Cape Cod, Mass.), and Vinay Raj (Chennai, India)
For the last 30 years, Centers for Youth and Families has been a leading educational resource for parents needing assistance in guiding their children through childhood. The organization provides access to books, videos, and handouts as well as ongoing evidenced based parenting classes that focus on child development, discipline, building healthy relationships, teaching responsibility, and other areas specific to ADHD, strong willed children, and families who have experienced divorce and trauma. Despite a decline in the use of these resources over the last 5-7 years, therapists, social workers, judges, physicians, schools, and the general community have voiced continued support and need for them. Students will conduct a gap analysis in order to determine the best way to get information to parents to equip them where they are, ensuring relevancy and accessibility for today’s families.
Partner development and framework for nonprofit that aims to better relations between police and community members
Partner Organization: City of Conway
Team: Chelsea Miller (Hickory, N.C.), Hannah Bahn (Mercer Island, Wash.), Megan Kurten (Little Rock, Ark.), Steven Kwizera (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Brandon Treviño (Greeley, Colo.)
The City of Conway is developing a program that will be a public/private partnership to improve the relations and perception of the police force’s role in the community. The initial program will be set up to assist those who have low-level criminal violations, and warrants for their arrest for unpaid fines. In all cases, when a warrant is served, the individual goes to jail, and this creates an economic burden due to loss of job or other issues. The student team will work with local leaders to develop the framework and buy-in for a non-profit that will allow those with warrants a place to go to have a warrant served, without going to jail. Beyond creating this intervention program that will assist individuals in navigating the legal system, this non-profit will serve as an advocate for developing better relations between the police and residents of the city and, hopefully, can be used as a state and national model.
Develop evidence-based web content for statewide decarceration campaign
Partner Organization: decARcerate Campaign
Team: Emily Loker (Madison, Wis.), Caitlin Campbell (Batesville, Ark.), Jason Lochmann (Pine Bluff, Ark.), and Lucy Kagan (Fort Collins, Colo.)
Arkansas is on track to becoming the incarceration capital of the world. As crime rates decrease, the prison population continues to increase because of reactive policy and sentencing discrepancies. Crime and punishment are contentious issues, especially in the South, and it is important that stakeholders against hyper-incarceration address these issues with sensitivity. Students will gather fully developed, evidenced-based content for a website that outlines a campaign to reduce mass incarceration in Arkansas. The team will work with the decARcerate campaign to review literature about organizing de-carceration campaigns in the South, conduct message-testing focus groups with stakeholders across the state, and make recommendations to a coalition about prison reform messages that appeal to Arkansans.
Public Service curriculum development for early college prep middle school
Partner Organization: Hope Academy of Public Service (Hope Public Schools)
Team: Andrew Treviño (Greeley, Colo.), Caroline Dunlap (Brookline, Mass.), Zack Huffman (Houston, Miss.) and Crystal Mercer (Little Rock, Ark.)
This practicum team will work with the Hope Academy of Public Service, a middle school that has developed a unique program focusing on early college preparation and career opportunities in public service. The student team will assist in establishing a public service curriculum based on best practice research and primary data collection that demonstrates students of poverty are capable of meeting academic and career goals if appropriate opportunities are provided. This work with help develop a diverse group of community –minded, student leaders, with the aid of local community resources through the provision of rigorous instruction and relevant experiences in both the classroom and the larger community.
Capacity study and best practices on services available to AR homeless population
Partner Organization: Jericho Way Day Resource Center
Team: Natalie Ramm (Little Rock, Ark.), Liz Reich (Forest Park, Ill.), Ross Owyoung (McGehee, Ark.), Emilie Street (Jackson, Miss.), Tony Nickerson (Richland Hills, Texas)
There are many gaps in services provided to the homeless population due to lack of capacity. Jericho Way Day Resource Center was established to identify and provide resources and services for those in need with the ultimate goal of transitioning clients out of homelessness. The student team will develop a non-biased needs/capacity study and best practices report on social and behavioral health focused services that could expose gaps in services. The assessment and report will allow case managers and advocacy groups to pinpoint focus for finding solutions to homelessness in Arkansas.