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Twenty-five students from The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which is the new flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), visited the Clinton School today. The fellows were meeting with professionals, professors, and peers, learning about the Clinton School’s program, and experiencing Arkansas culture by touring the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library and Central High School, among other activities.
President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. Five hundred participants were selected from all over Africa to participate in a training program that will focus in one of three areas: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, and Public Management.
The University of Arkansas is hosting 25 participants in the Public Management sector. The Program will culminate with a summit of all 500 fellows in Washington, D.C. at the end of July.
The goal of the program is to give the young leaders practical leadership training in Public Management and guidance tailored to their area of expertise that they can take back and apply in their home country. Furthermore, the participants will network with other prestigious African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their sectors.
The students spent the day meeting with the president of the University of Arkansas System, Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, dean of the Clinton School, Skip Rutherford, professors, other students, and professional peers, discussing best practices, addressing cultural challenges, and exchanging ideas in their respective fields.
The 25 Washington Fellows visiting the University of Arkansas are professionals and scholars (ages 25-35) from Ghana, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Senegal, Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cape Verde, Cameroon, and Benin. Their professional backgrounds include public management, education, public health, law, human rights, business, civil service, and natural resource management. Other fields of interest include women’s rights, youth empowerment, employment strategies, and non-profit management.
A student from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service coordinated community engagement and outreach efforts in the Park Hill and Levy neighborhoods in North Little Rock for the development of improvement plans.
In conjunction with Fit 2 Live of the City of North Little Rock, Clinton School student Jenna Rhodes of Kansas City, Mo., developed and implemented an engagement strategy, including demographic data collection, to increase participation by key stakeholder groups in multiple community meetings to determine what future improvements are desired.
The student’s project focused on the Park Hill and Levy neighborhoods, both of which received $200,000 in Metroplan funding to complete the planning process in conjunction with the Imagine Central Arkansas campaign. The plans will include elements dealing with pedestrian-oriented design, transportation options, housing choice, public gathering spaces, healthy communities, economic development, educational opportunities and the environment.
Bernadette Rhodes, project manager of the Park Hill project, said that the project has provided a way for different groups, such as residents, business owners, city staff, and community organizations to come together and work toward a better future for the community.
Rhodes presented her research findings to city staff and provided recommendations to the project managers regarding next steps for project implementation.
The City of North Little Rock intends to use this information to create an implementation plan to begin enacting some of the design changes identified during the planning process in both communities.
Rhodes completed the project as part of the Clinton School Capstone program, which is the culminating field course and sends students into the field to complete a comprehensive public service project to demonstrate their expertise as part of the Master of Public Service degree program.
About the North Little Rock Fit 2 Live Initiative
Fit 2 Live is an initiative created in 2009 through a joint partnership between the City of North Little Rock and the North Little Rock School District to focus on healthy eating and active living for residents and employees. Fit 2 Live’s mission includes “creating an environment that empowers our community to recognize and adopt healthy life choices, collecting evidence-based data, building partnerships to identify and share resources, developing and reinforcing policy initiatives that support these goals, and promoting and implementing innovative programs and practices”. Fit 2 Live recently completed a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National League of Cities, and CDC grant to increase access to nutritious food and opportunities for physical activity. The seven focus areas of Fit 2 Live are: healthy food options, community gardens, employee wellness, joint use agreements, built environment, safe routes to school, and school wellness.
More information about Fit 2 Live is available at www.nlrfit2live.org.
The blog entry below is part of a series written by current Clinton School students working abroad on their International Public Service Projects. This blog was written by current Clinton School student Haylee Fletcher. The original blog entry can be read here.
Life seems to have a tendency to throw curve balls in our direction from time to time, and over the past several years, I’ve learned that it takes a lot of courage, grace, and resolve to overcome these trials, enabling us to walk away stronger, resilient, and more knowledgeable. Through the Clinton School of Public Service, I’ve learned that partnerships, sustainability, and mindfulness are important characteristics. I’ve also learned that often, things do not go as planned; in those moments, we need strength in order to navigate through the unknown. I’ve learned to be considerate, flexible, and understanding during those times. Furthermore, I’ve come to understand that a careful review of the context and environment is important; moreover, that willingness to adapt is crucial. I am incredibly fortunate to attend such a unique graduate program. The Clinton School has provided countless opportunities for personal growth. I’ve been challenged, but I know that I have grown from each opportunity, struggle, and triumph – and for that, I am grateful. I’ve learned that even in the most difficult, dysfunctional, and seemingly grim situations, I have to look for the hidden opportunities that reside in the rubble and try to find a way to move forward from there – placing one foot in front of the other.
My motto for the past couple of years seems to be, change is inevitable. Last year through the Clinton School, I participated in a yearlong, team-based project in Little Rock, Arkansas. At the end of a challenging, and rewarding year, everyone was asked to develop a reflection piece based on the experience, the curriculum, and lessons learned as a public servant; I titled the piece, Inevitable Change. This summer, I have traveled to South Africa for 10 weeks to be apart of an international social change issue, revolving around a solid, well-researched project description.
Originally, I was asked to create a volunteer program plan for the organization that has essentially been run by volunteers for decades. However, after learning about the current state of affairs, and the significant challenges that the organization is facing, I knew my project needed to drastically change. While the main stakeholders have remained the same (the volunteers), the scope, focus, and direction of my time in Johannesburg shifted. For now, my focus will be to save a dying project by developing recommendations and next steps (based on volunteer feedback, input, and guidance) around reinventing, and redeveloping the organization.
While the changes have been substantial, I know that my experiences at the Clinton School thus far have equipped me and I have been able to mold and transform with the project along the way. This flexibility has enabled me to not loose hope, motivation, or determination. Given the extensive challenges and subsequent opportunities, I am dedicated to working as hard as I can in order to create the best deliverable possible in the time that remains.
Nick Provencher of Calais, ME, completed his final capstone project with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, collaborating with The First Tee of Central Arkansas to address student assessment and evaluation at The First Tee.
Since 2001, The First Tee has provided marginalized youth in the Central Arkansas area the opportunity to acquire valuable life skills while learning the game of golf. The organization targets youth who have been traditionally excluded from the game and its positive ideals.
Over the past six months Provencher thoroughly evaluated the curriculum used at The First Tee. The evaluation targeted key areas such as lesson facilitation, course content, and the performance measurements used to assess students. The information from the evaluation created an overview of The First Tee program in action. The next phase of the project reviewed over 30 program evaluations of organizations specializing in youth development. Data from both phases was collated into a final summary report complete with recommendations. The recommendations detailed a new system of assessment allowing The First Tee to better assess its impact at the student level.
“It is very necessary to be able to accurately gage the impact we are having on our students. Reliable data allows us to target a students specific needs and maximize the benefit they receive from the program”, said Monica Brown, Program Director for The First Tee of Central Arkansas. “Our coaches are passionate about working with youth and welcome any tool that will assist them in that endeavor.”
The Capstone Project is the third of three major field projects in the Clinton School curriculum. Provencher will graduate in August 2014.
For more information about The First Tee of Central Arkansas visit: http://www.thefirstteelittlerock.org
The blog entry below is part of a series written by current Clinton School students working abroad on their International Public Service Projects. This blog was written by current Clinton School student Bolton Kirchner. The original blog entry can be read here.
By Bolton Kirchner
So after a week of orientation and acclimation, and spending last week at a water management conference, I am finally beginning the actual work this week. I still plan on having a separate blog post to explain my project plan, but I want to share some our exciting, although minor accomplishments from the past two days. I plan to write more about my stellar project collaborators, but we’ll jump in for now.
Because we’re still making some decisions about how to move forward with each of our respective, but interconnected projects, we started small this week. We’re still pretty proud of our accomplishments.
Monday morning we all bounded out of the hut ready to take on the day. Our objective was to set up temporary hand washing stations while we develop a long-term solution. Forrest Whitaker, the actor of “The Butler” and “The Last King of Scotland,” has developed a relationship with Hope North. He visits to conduct peace- building workshops with the students, and he will be here this Friday (6.20) and Saturday (6.21). We wanted these set-up for his visit.
We selected two spots, near the kitchen and near the dorms, for our stations. We wanted small drainage areas underneath the faucets to absorb the water. I began digging small pits, and Monday Collins, the art teacher, helped us with a better idea. The hand washing station by the kitchen sits on an old and unused well. Monday broke through the well casing so that the water would drain into the well. Once this was complete, we made about 12 trips to each of the hand washing stations with 5 liter buckets to completely fill each station. I definitely learned how much hard work goes into so many small tasks here – it took us about an hour to fill up each station.
The old well provided inspiration to develop a more permanent hand washing station. We are hoping to develop an idea that uses the structure of the old well, and can drain into the well to prevent erosion. I’ll keep you updated with our plans. We’re very excited about our possible model.
And today, Tuesday (6.17), Dani thought it would be helpful if we replanted one of Hope North’s many aloe plants for a test. One of Mary Nell’s projects is to beautify the front gate at Hope North, and Dani is developing ways to derive revenue from the many aloe plants. A Dutch NGO donated the plants, and had many ideas about how the plants could be used, the plants have barely been used although.
Dani’s idea was to dig up four plants, immediately replant two, replant the third after 4 hours, and replant the fourth after a day. She is testing to see if the plants could be sold and then survive traveling for many days. I found the project to be very hands on and enjoyable. For different reasons, we have been removed from physical work in some ways, although it’s very prevalent here. We decided all the plants could spruce up the front gate and we replanted there. Many of the photos above are from this work.
While it’s difficult to tell the change, for us it’s a huge impact. Unfortunately, the sign is not all that welcoming and we hope this change welcomes our guests arriving this week.
PS: Two giant moths, the size of small bats, just flew into our hut. Scared us pretty badly. Chivalrously, I killed one with my Chaco while Jackie and Mary screamed. Unfortunately, I think they were harmless – just startling.
The blog entry below is part of a series written by current Clinton School students working abroad on their International Public Service Projects. This blog was written by current Clinton School student Dani Folks. The original blog entry can be read here.
From the professional standpoint, my time in Uganda has had some interesting challenges. My project plan was shaped from with the goal of continuing the work that was completed by Clinton School students last summer; however, the state of affairs at Hope North had changed significantly by the time we arrived this summer. If you have asked me about my project in the past, I said something like “I’m working to develop aloe vera sales and bakery function on campus to raise some money”.
Before I left, I was notified that the staff responsible for these programs were no longer with Hope North and that the roof had fallen off of the bakery…so I was prepared for some twists and turns. I still wasn’t ready to find the bakery (which is also the only kitchen used to cook for the 330+ students here) in this state.
The aloe vera crop is in a much more stable condition. These plants are hearty & large in number. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any interest in purchasing aloe vera in the immediate community and there is no man power available in existing staff to promote or process the plants into a product that might be purchased. The students are expected to maintain the aloe, which sometimes pulls them away from their studies. We are hoping to find a commercial partner who will purchase the aloe to use in their own enterprises. Needless to say, our focus is shifting…
We aren’t totally giving up on the bakery. It needs a ridiculous amount of work, but when functional it will be worth it. The financial situation here is more challenging than any non-profit I have ever worked for in the United States. Despite a celebrity endorsement and prolonged relationships with a variety of public servants, Hope North is in serious need of even basic financial security. Although the aloe and bakery probably won’t be functional any time in the immediate future, there are some other prospects. I am now helping to design a leasing and/or sharecropping program to profit off approximately 35 acres of undeveloped land owned by the school. Hopefully we will be able to begin collecting payment from tenants of this land before I leave in August. Additionally I am helping the interim director, Clinton School alum Joe Schafer, to develop a guest fee model that will encourage more visitors to campus while generating some revenue to cover operating costs.
Overall, my aim is to provide Hope North with an entrepreneurial framework that will allow them to assess money-making ideas internally for feasibility and sustainability. Things move slowly in Uganda, and everyone does what they have to to get by every day. Complicated, Western business schemes with many moving parts will not gain traction over time, they just get tabled and die. Instead, my work will focus on providing Hope North the tools they need to simplify their options and create the greatest amount of income while utilizing the lowest amount of human capital or investment capital. Things are finally kicking into gear here at a professional level, and I am eager to see what the next several weeks will bring. Wish me luck!
The Cisneros Center for New Americans, a nonpartisan, non-profit institution founded by Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, focused on immigrant integration and improving access to avenues of opportunity for immigrants, today announced the appointment of its first “American Dream Fellows.” The three Fellows will be a part of the Center’s nationally based operations and programs that will carry out two principle strategies: identifying and promoting immigration integration best practices, as well as, instilling a sense of urgency about education. The three American Dream Fellows to the Center’s inaugural program are scheduled to begin work this fall in Northwest Arkansas.
The three Fellows, chosen from a field of over seventy applicants from across the U.S., underwent an extensive interview process, including a group exercise and individual interviews by a panel of distinguished San Antonio educators, community leaders and Center staff.
Jennifer Aguirre, Houston, Texas; Jacob Perry, Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Jessica Boyd, Little Rock Arkansas are the three American Dream Fellows. Perry and Boyd are both University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service graduates, each receiving a Master of Public Service degree. They will all undergo extensive training this summer in San Antonio and in Arkansas at the University of Arkansas before their assignment to Northwest Arkansas. The Fellows will spend one year working to empowering immigrants as they strive to fully integrate into American Society. They will harness the collective knowledge and expertise of their fellow practitioners and leverage partnerships with key civic, academic, and corporate stakeholders. The Center will equip these motivated young professionals to be their nation’s “boots on the ground” in communities as they work to catalog, articulate and help address the gaps and barriers that keep immigrant communities and families from achieving the American Dream.
The expectancy the Cisneros Center will have for the program is to develop, with all its partners, guidelines to help new immigrants understand the journey to achieving their “American Dream.” The hope is to accomplish this through English language training, promoting higher education, building financial capability, promoting health and family wellbeing, along with community engagement and commitment. Through these ideals, there will be successful integration and empowerment for new Americans
Jessica Boyd of Little Rock, Ark. spent six months completing her University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service final capstone project with Nisolo, an impact-focused fashion label dedicated to providing customers with well-designed, quality products that are sourced in an ethical manner. Boyd successfully developed a campus representative program to promote Nisolo on college campuses nation-wide.
The purpose of the Nisolo Campus Representative Program is to raise awareness about the brand and mission of Nisolo on college campuses. Student representatives will work with Nisolo to promote its products and share its mission with other university students. In addition to being beneficial for Nisolo, the program will benefit students by providing them with opportunities, experiences, and skills that will enhance their resumes and build the foundation for their futures.
Boyd spent one month surveying over 120 university students and conducting eight focus groups with undergrads to determine students’ perception of Nisolo and their motivations for participation in campus programs. Additionally, Boyd spoke with managers of other campus representative programs to determine the best overall strategy for these types of programs.
“We are passionate about the work that we do, and we are incredibly grateful for the fine job Jessica has done with the Campus Representative Program to help us share our passion with others,” said Patrick Woodyard, Co-Founder and CEO of Nisolo. “Our hope is that the program will help to grow our brand and that we’ll provide a great opportunity for students to find their passion while contributing to the social impact Nisolo is having across the world.”
Using the data she collected, Boyd created a campus representative program guide for Nisolo. This guide outlines the short and long-term goals for the program. It also suggests to Nisolo the best strategies for recruiting student representatives. The guide outlines the basic structure of the program, including the weekly and yearly responsibilities for students and for Nisolo. Finally, the program guide includes tools for Nisolo, such as the campus representative application and a basic guide to program evaluation.
Boyd also created a campus representative manual for Nisolo’s student representatives. This manual contains basic information about Nisolo and the program, and provides students with multiple tools they may need during their term as a campus representative. For example, the manual includes sections on social media strategies and suggested events.
“Jessica’s passion for social enterprise, analytical wherewithal, and dedication to this project will serve us well in years to come, Woodyard added. “Our team in the U.S., our shoemakers in Peru, and all of the future students who will benefit from the program certainly owe a big thanks to Jessica.”
Boyd’s research and the resulting campus representative program will help Nisolo to grow as a company so it can increase its impact in Peru and eventually expand its impact across the world.
The Capstone Project is the third of three major field projects in the Clinton School curriculum. Boyd will graduate in August 2014.
Nisolo is an impact focused fashion label dedicated to providing customers with products that are sourced in an ethical manner. Its current line of handmade leather shoes and accessories is made by exceptionally skilled shoemakers in Northern Peru and is helping its shoemakers to grow out of poverty. One of the main causes of material poverty in the developing world is a lack of a consistent job or livelihood. Nisolo’s goal is to address this challenge by empowering talented artisans, allowing them to shape their future by way of their extraordinary work. Nisolo has chosen to focus its cause on the most important factor in establishing access and opportunity in a sustainable manner: Job Creation. Its goal is to provide an opportunity for those willing to work to be able to fulfill their aspirations. Starting with shoemakers in Peru, its vision is to serve as a springboard for impoverished entrepreneurs around the globe.
More information about Nisolo is available at http://nisolo.com/.