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Brandon Mathews has an offering for student services director Michelle Anderson, who runs the food pantry at Pulaski Technical College: hamburger and hot dog buns from his wife’s work picnic. Not a vat of olive oil or a ruck of California almonds — not big-ticket — but Anderson says she knows just the woman who will love it.
Then Mathews says something that perks this reporter’s ears up: “Summers are always a challenge keeping [the pantry] stocked, I know.”
Mathews’ mission is college campus food pantries. He was, as an undergraduate in Fayetteville, once an operator of one, and a user.
Did you know this was a thing? Hungry undergrads? It is, he says.
In the near future he plans to publish a blog post at the Brookings Institute called “The Narrative of Hungry College Students: A Prescription for Policymakers.” In it, he suggests that hungry college students are as much a part of that select population as hungry people are a part of the general population.
But why would summers be a drain on the pantry? A desert breeze fans the shelves and, whisk, no more Kellogg’s single-serving eight-pack cereals?
Nope, says Anderson. Fewer gifts. Pantry visits remain relatively stable, but mainstay almsgivers go on vacation. (I wonder if business at the pantry in Destin, Fla., picks up?)
Pity for Mathews he’s such a poor face for the poor. He’s trim and good-looking and a dapper dresser (though in that ineffable way that could be country club, could be Kohl’s). At 24, he’s married to a future pharmacist, and newly graduated from the Clinton School of Public Service. (OK, that last part comports with drive toward social remedy.)
Growing up, dad was a long-haul trucker and mom a manager at McDonald’s. In high school he began noticing his parents bringing home groceries, not in plastic bags, but in corrugated cardboard boxes. He always had enough to eat, he says, but the brands he’d get to know would change, from Campbell’s to Great Value to “something cheaper.”
Balancing tuition, room and board at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville required the full complement of federal grants and student loans, as well as his and his parents’ savings and what he took home working at Blockbuster. As a sophomore his aid was affected by a slip-up in his parents’ IRS filing, and suddenly, he was eating like a Victorian foundling from an occult hand — big pots of jasmine rice with Sriracha hot sauce and crackers for dinner, a dollop of peanut butter “for protein.”
That year, he began volunteering at the campus pantry — the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry. For a long time he didn’t avail himself of the nonperishables. “I always felt there’s gotta be someone hungrier than me,” and besides, how would it look?
Eventually, “I caved.” One good thing about Full Circle is it’s housed in a discreet location, and foodstuffs are packed in nondescript bags. “We don’t brand anything,” he said. Another good thing is the (comparatively) ready supply of fresh fruits and vegetables from the campus garden and local farmers.
One time a huge supply of eggplant came in. People complained, “I don’t know how to cook eggplant,” and Mathews had to tell them to pull out their smartphones, type “eggplant recipes” into a search box, and take a magical trip back to a time before drive-through. Like the Arkansas Foodbank and many other safety net services around the state, Full Circle began offering tutorials called Cooking Matters and Shopping Matters — instructions on how to prepare a meal (mostly) from scratch, and how to shop well on a budget.
Here’s a question he gets a bunch: What’s stopping anyone from cheating the system? Picking up a load of free groceries, then spending a paycheck on video games? Mathews says it’s basically an honor system service. In his experience, “people who are here don’t want to be here.”
Yet, he wants to build more of them.
In May he impressed some Little Rock business leaders at a regular Tuesday luncheon of the Rotary Club 99. “I was sitting there at the head table, if I recall,” says Bob Denman, Rotary club president, “and I got three text messages from people sitting in the crowd [as Mathews spoke] saying, ‘Ooo, I know how we can fund this'” planned pantry at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Mathews says, “A couple individuals said later, ‘You know, when I was in school, I was a hungry student, but we didn’t even have this idea of a campus food pantry. I sure would’ve liked it.'”
UALR plans to open its pantry at the beginning of the year. Denman, the school’s vice chancellor for advancement, said the money will come from annual giving and student-led philanthropy — “students raising money to help other students.”
Mathews says, “We’ve known there’s always been students who are food insecure or dealing with poverty … and honestly, when people hear that this is an issue, they legitimately care. You don’t have to get people to buy in.”
Today, Mathews is looking for work while an associate director of campus resources for the College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA) — a volunteer position, for now. From 1993 to this year the number of CUFBA food banks at colleges and universities has grown from one (Michigan State University’s) to 184. Why? Perhaps because an increasingly nontraditional student body composed of returning soldiers, single parents or previous drop-outs are greeted by ungovernable tuition inflation.
In-state tuition and fees have more than doubled since 2004 at UALR and more than doubled since 2001 at UA-Fayetteville. On average, four-year public institutions almost exactly doubled their tuition and fees from the 2002-03 academic year to the 2012-13 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“You’ve got more people still competing for the same pool of money and resources with different responsibilities and challenges in their lives,” Mathews said.
High Profile on 08/30/2015
This post, written by Class of 2017 student Sarah Fowlkes, was originally published on OurValues.org and republished here with permission.
In America, we are often bombarded with campaigns from non-profit organizations asking for donations to help with some dire cause in Africa. Many of these organizations are doing a lot of good, but there are a number of projects that seem promising from the outside, but actually have unintended negative consequences.
Consider Malaria, a deadly disease transmitted by mosquitos. Nearly half the world is at risk for Malaria, leading to about 600,000 deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization. About 90% of these cases occur in Africa, particularly in low-income communities. There are several organizations that donate pesticide-treated nets to help with the prevention of Malaria. In general, this seems like a very logical, low-cost, effective solution to a big problem. However, these organizations are offering a widespread solution to a problem without realizing that, in many parts of Africa, the nets aren’t being used in the intended way.
Studies now are showing that the nets are not always used to protect family members from Malaria—and, instead, they’re being turned into fishing nets in some parts of the continent. These African communities are more concerned with not being able to put food on their tables, a daily problem they can actually see, than the potential problem of Malaria, which is much less tangible. The treated nets are detrimental to the environment, because they are leading to overfishing and toxic pesticides in the drinking water.
In a recent New York Times article, Jeffrey Gettleman, the East Africa Bureau Chief for the Times and a Pulitzer Prize winner, reported:
One of the few detailed studies on the issue showed that in several villages along Lake Tanganyika, an essential body of water shared by four East African nations, 87.2 percent of households used mosquito nets to fish. When that study was presented at a malaria conference last year, the reception, according to some of those in attendance, was decidedly cool.
“People are very defensive about this topic,” said Amy Lehman, an American physician and the founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, which conducted the study. “The narrative has always been, ‘Spend $10 on a net and save a life,’ and that’s a very compelling narrative. But what if that net is distributed in a waterside, food-insecure area where maybe you won’t be affecting the malaria rate at all and you might actually be hurting the environment? It’s a lose-lose. And that’s not a very neat story to tell.”
In that region of Africa, Gettleman is pointing to a solution—provided with the best of intentions by donors far from Africa—that is doing more harm than good in those particular communities. Anti-Malaria nets may be effective on other regions, but the single-solution program sending these nets far and wide hasn’t taken into account Africa’s enormous diversity. The nets don’t seem to be a good idea in poor communities where fishing is an important and vitally needed resource. Obviously, more studies and debate will follow this report from Lake Tanganyika.
There is also the problem of development without follow-up.
Large non-profit and government organizations create multi-million-dollar projects that build infrastructure such as wells and pipes. Access to clean water is a significant problem in the developing world. More than 1.1 billion people live without access to clean water, and 3.4 million people die every year due to complications from unclean water. There are hundreds of organizations that build wells and pipes to help alleviate this problem—but very few who teach community members how to maintain the infrastructure. The result is within a few months or years, the water systems are not working. The community once helped by the project is back to square one.
The problem is that international organizations often research the significant problems plaguing Africa and create their own solutions from thousands of miles away.
These organizations need much more community buy-in and ownership in order for these projects to be sustainable. Communities working with organizations will understand how the projects need to be maintained, and can communicate follow-up needs to organizations.
Development in Africa needs to be a conversation, not a mandate. There needs to be a solid relationship between the development organizations and those they intend to help in order to establish sustainable projects with significant impact.
– See more at: http://www.readthespirit.com/ourvalues/series/5-myths-about-africa/#sthash.L7QIbJqc.dpuf
Ten 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 2015-2016 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 Hot Springs, Newport, Monticello and Helena-West Helena.
“While other academic programs often address the questions of what, where and why, this field service hands on experience, in combination with the skills and strategies gained in the classroom, enable Clinton School students to better answer the critical question of how,” said Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III. “A key component of this team-based initiative is getting to outcomes.”
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 2015-16 Clinton School Practicum Projects include:
Local Partner Development for Senior Services
Partner Organization: Arkansas Foodbank (http://www.arkansasfoodbank.org/)
Team: Mary Henthorn (Little Rock, Ark.), Salil Joshi (Shreveport, La.), Miki Kunishige (Rapid City, S.D.), Yvonne Quek (Singapore)
Arkansas Foodbank has worked in underserved communities to bring awareness, collaboration and resource development to these communities in an effort to open new pantries and strengthen existing agencies. Through these efforts, Arkansas Foodbank has identified the need for community partner development in the work being done to serve seniors. Agencies have expressed a desire to enhance their service of seniors but some are seeing the need for more community awareness, support and collaboration. Arkansas Foodbank hopes to replicate the success of their local partner development initiative in building stronger senior services. This team will focus on facilitating the assessment of community partners and resources, bringing those groups together, and finding way the community can work together to capitalize on each other’s work and resources to better serve seniors.
Improving Student Achievement with School Breakfast
Partner Organization: Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (http://www.arhungeralliance.org/)
Team: Will Van Laningham (Fayatteville, Ark.), Colbert Nelson (Little Rock, Ark.), Shem Ngwira (Lilongwe, Malawi), Marsha Scullark (West Memphis, Ark.)
This team will work with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to evaluate the impact of the Arkansas Meals for Achievement Pilot Grant program (which encourages schools to provide all students a free breakfast) on student health, attendance, behavior and academic achievement. The team will expand the scope of research initiated by the 2014/15 practicum team and help support hunger relief policy recommendations aimed at improving student outcomes.
Housing Accessibility Study
Partner Organization: Central Arkansas Re-Entry (CARE) Coalition (http://arkansasreentry.com)
Team: Zac Hale (Huntsville, Ala.), Emily Kearns (Little Rock, Ark.), Alexandre Meldem (Lausanne, Switzerland), Michael Watson (Washington, DC)
The team will study the need for housing and the availability of housing for members of the community that are in transitional circumstances which includes returning citizens in Little Rock. CARE will use the information to address housing barriers and to assist with future planning to address the issue of housing.
Feasibility Study on Therapeutic Behavioral Health Garden for Youth
Partner Organization: Centers for Youth and Families (www.cfyf.org)
Team: Kristen Alexander (Little Rock, Ark.), Daniel Caruth (Morrilton, Ark.), Claire Hodgson (Russellville, Ark.), Piper Meeks (Nederland,Texas)
This team will explore the feasibility of establishing a botanical and/or food producing garden to create an interactive, educational and therapeutic experience for the clients of Centers for Youth and Families. Centers for Youth and Families provides specialized prevention, intervention and treatment services that promote emotional and social wellness for children and families of Arkansas.
Developing Promising Practices for Outreach, Impact, and Success Outcomes
Partner Organization: Goodwill Industries of Arkansas (http://www.goodwillar.org/)
Team: Nora Bouzihay (Jonesboro, Ark.), Xochitl Delgado-Solorzano (Springdale, Ark.), Arjola Limani (Tirana, Albania), Jeremiah Sniffin (Laramie, Wyo.)
This team will research and compile best practices for service engagement with the Latino community here in Arkansas. These findings will be utilized to develop a comprehensive action plan for the organization to better serve and engage the Latino community in central Arkansas. This guide and action plan will aid the organization in serving its mission to provide education and training through its charter and trade schools as well as increase employment outcomes for individuals in the Latino community and their families. Anticipated services may include but are not limited to ESL, youth, reentry, support and career-readiness services, and job placement opportunities.
Identifying Education and Family Stability Resources in Garland County
Partner Organization: Hot Springs Area Community Foundation (http://www.arcf.org/about/affiliateoffices/hotspringsarea.aspx)
Team: Khalid Ahmadzai (Kabul, Afghanistan), Evan Brown (Memphis, Tenn.), Sarah Fowlkes (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Yohannis Job (Scarborough, Tobago)
The assigned team will study the availability and adequacy of two pillars of poverty in Garland County, education and family stability. The community foundation will use the information to strategically plan grants that address gaps in services and offer leadership to encourage collaboration of service duplication.
Making Food Accessible
Partner Organization: Mid-Delta Community Consortium (http://adrdnmdcc.com)
Team: Ben Barber (Hartsdale, N.Y.), Thurman Green III (Pine Bluff, Ark.), Hunter Owen (Conway, Ark.), Rob Pillow (Jackson, Miss.)
This team will assist in the development of an assessment tool to identify community leaders and members (including community/ faith-based organizations/ local public sector officials/etc.) that assist low-income individuals/families in accessing food assistance programs. This tool will also identify and address barriers associated with access to food assistance programs. The results from the assessment will benefit MDCC and its partners in alleviating identified barriers and improve access to food assistance programs.
Developing a Creative Economy in Newport
Partner Organization: Newport Economic Development Commission (http://newportarcity.org/economic-development/)
Team: Stacy Cox (Little Rock, Ark.), Zachary Glembin (Milwaukee, Wis.), Beau Papan (Little Rock, Ark.), Keith Preciados (Miami, Fla.)
This team will work on a resource plan for the restoration and renovation of a historic bank building in downtown Newport. The local community is purchasing this building to become the home of the Blue Bridge Center for the Delta Arts. Working with the Downtown Revitalization and Improvement Volunteer Effort (D.R.I.V.E.), the team will shape the fundraising efforts to develop this space for the creative economy in Newport. The plan will be used to create a hub for revitalization in downtown Newport.
Creating Food Accessibility through Mobile Markets
Partner Organization: The People Tree (http://thepeopletree.us/)
Team: Cat French (Little Rock, Ark.), Caitlin McAteer (Denver, Colo.), Heather Rossi (Columbia, S.C.), Merrill Schmidt (Little Rock, Ark.)
This team will work to contribute to the development of mobile food markets for fresh fruits and vegetables in Little Rock and North Little Rock. The project aims to increase awareness and community support around the concept of mobile markets and to increase outlets for local growers/community gardens to sell their produce. Students will conduct surveys at food pantries and community gardens with the goal of linking consumers and producers together and building community support for the mobile market concept. This project involves partnerships with multiple community partners including but not limited to, the Clinton Foundation, Arkansas Hunger Alliance, UALR, UAMS, Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Extension, Central Arkansas Transit, as well as the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Assessing the needs of families in southeast Arkansas
Partner Organization: Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Family Services (http://www.veralloyd.org/)
Team: Abby Craig (Little Rock, Ark.), Elena Perry (Slobozia, Romania), Demas Soliman (Alexandria, Egypt), Mary Wolf (Milwaukee, Wis.)
This team will reach out to nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and government agencies to complete a comprehensive needs assessment to determine educational and support needs of children and families in southeast Arkansas. Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Family Services will use the results to develop services that will be carried out by its counseling and outreach staff.
“Jazz: Integrated Art in Segregated America,” a panel discussion
Monday, August 24, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (South on Main, 1304 Main St., Little Rock, AR 72202) *In partnership with Oxford American
– “Jazz,” a panel discussion, will be led by Jackie Lamar, professor of saxophone at the University of Central Arkansas’s College of Fine Arts and Communication, and will feature panelists including Little Rock-based singer Irene Crutchfield, bassist Bill Huntington, drummer Alvin Fielder, and bassist London Branch. The panel will share personal experiences as jazz musicians in integrated bands prior to the Civil Rights Act, and the importance of music and art as uniting forces in modern America. At 8:00 p.m., following the 60-minute free symposium, the Alvin Fielder Group will play a 90-minute set of music for $10 admission, $5 for students/artists.“
American Soccer Around the World,” Michael Kammarman, press officer for US Men’s National Soccer Team
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall)
– After graduating college, Michael Kammarman set out with his brother for the next two years backpacking around the world, ultimately hitting 35 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. Nearly 20 years later, he is still getting stamps on his passport, except this time as the press officer for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team. Kammarman, who graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in political science, got his start in soccer when he was a volunteer at the Washington venue when the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994. Join us for a moderated discussion about his travels and experiences over the past 15 years.
“Stay Safe: A memoir of life after loss from the sister of a fallen Navy SEAL,” Emily Reeves
Friday, August 28, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Emily Reeves’ younger brother was on SEAL Team 6 and aboard the helicopter that was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. It was the worst single loss-of-life day for the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan. It was also the worst in the history of Naval Special Warfare. Since then, we have heard many stories about SEAL Team 6, their missions and the men that make up that group of heroes. Throughout this ordeal, she wrote letters to her brother and turned those notes into a short memoir recounting the month of August 2011 that shares the unimaginable events of that month and how she and her dad managed through it. The notification, the dignified transfer of remains, the memorial service, the burial at sea, an earthquake, a hurricane, multiple funeral services for other men from the helicopter and all the memories these events stirred up are covered in this memoir
“A Student Centered Learning Approach,” Elliot Washor, co-founder of Big Picture Learning
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
– Elliot Washor has been involved in school reform for more than 35 years as a teacher, principal, administrator, video producer, and writer. He has taught and is interested in all levels of school from kindergarten through college, in urban and rural settings, across all disciplines. Washor’s interests lie in the field of how schools can connect with communities to understand tacit and disciplinary learning both in and outside of school. At Thayer High School in Winchester, N.H., Washor’s professional development programs won an “Innovations in State and Local Government Award” from the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has been selected as an educator to watch in Rhode Island and has recently been selected as one of the Daring Dozen – the Twelve Most Daring Educators in the World by the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
“Is There Hope for the Global Environment in the Long Run?,” Gazmend Zeneli
Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Gazmend Zeneli is a professor of environmental policy at University of Marin Barleti in Tirana, Albania and University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Scholar in Residence. Zeneli has led various projects in his home country, including the Albanian National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2014-2020 and the Annual Environmental Performance Audit of the Natural Resources Development Project. He has published and presented more than 70 articles and scientific papers in the field of forestry and environment (including publications in Tree Physiology and Oecologia). In his public program, Zeneli will focus on EU policies and laws related to global ecological changes.
“Climate Change in US Cities: Managing A Rising Tide of Extreme Heat,” professor Brian Stone
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
– Brian Stone is an associate professor in the City and Regional Planning Program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he teaches in the areas of urban environmental management, land use, and transportation planning. Stone’s program of research is focused on the spatial drivers of urban environmental phenomena, with an emphasis on climate change and air quality. Most recently, Stone published studies on the role of land use in climate change mitigation, the extent to which urban areas are amplifying global warming trends, and the role of sprawling land use patterns in ozone formation. The urban climate lab is a group of researchers exploring the connections between climate change and the built environment and how land use is contributing to climate change, including through urbanization and displacement of natural land covers.
“A conversation with TIAA-CREF,” Tim Hopper, chief economist, and Heather Davis, chief investment officer for private markets
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Tim Hopper, chief economist, and Heather Davis, chief investment officer for private markets, will discuss what rising interest rates mean for the economy and markets. They will also address the TIAA-CREF fruits of employment program. As TIAA-CREF’s leading economic advisor, Hopper is responsible for articulating the firm’s economic views and providing guidance that informs the firm’s investment portfolios and asset allocation strategies. As chief investment officer, Davis is responsible for strategy, investment originations, portfolio management and board reporting for the organization’s private fixed-income and private equity investments, including direct equity investments in the real assets sectors.
“Macbeth,” a panel discussion
Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall) *In partnership with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre
– Murder, madness, and magic haunt every shadowy corner in the most powerful of William Shakespeare’s great tragedies. After receiving an ominous prophecy on a blood-soaked battlefield, Macbeth and his ambitious wife claw their way to the Scottish throne. Each step closer to fulfilling his royal fate leads Macbeth deeper and deeper into a fiendish quagmire of carnage and corruption, from which none can survive; not even him. Join The Rep as we cast a spell on Arkansas audiences with this powerful production that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Join us for a panel discussion about this production with moderator Bob Hupp, producing artistic director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
“Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America’s Prison Crisis,” professor Jeff Smith
Monday, September 14, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
– In 2009, Jeff Smith, a former Missouri State Senator, pleaded guilty to charges related to campaign malfeasance and earned himself a year and a day in a Kentucky federal correction institution. In “Mr. Smith Goes to Prison”, he traces the cracks in America’s prison walls, exposing the shortcomings of a race-based cycle of poverty and crime that sets inmates up to fail. Now an urban policy professor, Smith’s blend of academic training, real-world political acumen, and insights from a year on the inside of prison help him offer practical solutions to the nation’s prison problem and to jumpstart the rehabilitation of the millions behind bars.
Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series with Chelsea Clinton
Friday, September 18, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (Great Hall) *Book signing to follow *In partnership with the Clinton Foundation and AT&T
– In “It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!,” Chelsea Clinton tackles the biggest challenges facing us today. She combines facts, charts, photographs and stories to give readers a deep understanding of the world around them and how anyone can make a difference. With stories about children and teens who have made real changes big and small, this book inspires readers of all ages to do their part to make our world a better place. One of Clinton’s favorite childhood books was “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth;” as an elementary school student in Little Rock, AR, she helped start a paper-recycling program at her school; as a teenager in Washington, D.C., she led her school’s service club; and as a student at Stanford University, she volunteered as a reading and writing tutor and at the Children’s Hospital. Today, she is Vice Chair of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation where she helps lead the work of the Foundation across its various initiatives, with a particular focus on work related to health, girls and women, creating service opportunities, and empowering the next generation of leaders. Chelsea holds a BA from Stanford University, an MPH from Columbia University, and an MPhil and doctorate degree in international relations from Oxford University.
The lecture featuring Chelsea Clinton will be the 1,000th public program for the Clinton School of Public Service. On September 18, 2004, the Clinton School welcomed their first public program speaker, Senator Bob Dole. Please join us as we celebrate this milestone.
“Operation HOPE” founder and CEO, John Hope Bryant
Monday, September 21, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
– John Hope Bryant is the founder, chairman and chief executive Officer for Operation HOPE, whose mission is to make free enterprise work for everyone by working as a nonprofit private banker for the working poor, the underserved, and struggling middle class. Through Operation HOPE and its partners, Bryant is today responsible for more than $2 billion of private capital supporting low-wealth home ownership, small businesses, entrepreneurship, and community development investments in 300 U.S. cities, South Africa, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
“The Human Rights Crisis on the U.S. Mexico Border,” Chelsea Halstead
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Chelsea Halstead is a program manager for the Colibrí Center for Human Rights where she leads the Colibrí’s Family Advocacy program, speaking with families to collect information on missing persons and making case matches by comparing reports to forensic data. The Colibrí Center is a family advocacy nonprofit based in Tucson, Arizona that works with families, forensic scientists and humanitarians to end migrant death on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The Demographics of Wealth,” director of The Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis, Ray Boshara
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *In partnership with Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
– Ray Boshara is the author of “The Role of Education,” the second essay in a three-part series titled “The Demographics of Wealth: How Age, Education, and Race Separate Thrivers from Strugglers in Today’s Economy” and published by The Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The essays are the result of an analysis of data collected between 1989 and 2013 through the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, including interviews with more than 40,000 heads of households during that time period. Bokhara’s essay, “The Role of Education” examines the possible links between education and household wealth.
“How Tech Can Create Social Change,” Nancy Lublin, founder of Crisis Text Line
Monday, September 28, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Nancy Lublin is the founder of Crisis Text Line, which is an emotional support line via texting for those in crisis. Before founding Crisis Text Line, Lublin created Dress for Success, a global entity that provides interview suits and career development training to women in need and turned around the organization Do Something from the brink of closure to one of the largest youth organizations in the world. Once named to Fortune’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” alongside the Pope and Dalai Lama, Lublin is also the author of the business best seller “Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business.” Lublin’s innovative approach to business, teens, and technology has transcended the not-for-profit world and featured on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, and in People Magazine.
“Landmark Decisions: What’s on the Docket Next”
Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Sturgis Hall) *In partnership with UALR William H. Bowen School of Law
– Every year on the first Monday in October the United States Supreme Court begins its new term. Last term’s same sex marriage and Obamacare decisions are the latest examples of how the Court’s decisions change the way we live. Associate Dean Theresa Beiner and Dean Emeritus John DiPippa at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law will discuss last year’s United States Supreme Court term and its blockbuster cases. They will also highlight the important cases on the Court’s docket and their significance.
Alex Eaton, director of sustainability, charity: water
Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
– Alexander Eaton is the director of sustainability at charity: water, which is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. Eaton works to integrate innovative technology and entrepreneurial solutions to keep water flowing at thousands of clean water projects in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Before starting at charity: water, Alex worked to empower smallholder farmers through renewable energy, agricultural technology and innovative financing. Over the last ten years he designed and brought to market the patented bioenergy system Biobolsa, worked with KIVA to develop one of their first green-finance products, and ran the International Renewable Resources Institute.
*Reserve your seats by emailing email@example.com or calling (501) 683-5239.
The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will enroll 39 new students in its two year Master of Public Service (MPS) degree program this fall. Located on the grounds of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in downtown Little Rock, the Clinton School is the first in the country to offer a Master of Public Service degree and the first to establish a Center on Community Philanthropy.
The new students, some of whom will be pursuing concurrent degrees in business administration, law, and public health, represent the school’s eleventh class. Since the enrollment of its first class in 2005, the Clinton School has grown steadily and has attracted students from all over the country, from more than 40 countries, and over 200 different colleges and universities. The new class of 2017 includes students from 14 states and 9 countries.
“What makes the Clinton School unique is our focus on team-based, international, and individual field service,” said James L. “Skip” Rutherford III, Dean of the Clinton School. “Our dedicated and experienced faculty will help these talented new students make tomorrow’s world better. Given the important national and international issues that will be discussed in the 2016 election cycle, there could not be a better time to be at the Clinton School to study and practice public service.”
This fall, the new Clinton School students will begin 10 team-based public service projects in partnership with organizations throughout Arkansas. In the classroom, the students complete core courses in the areas of social change, decision-making, conflict resolution, ethics and professionalism. Along with elective courses, the field service projects allow students to tailor their Clinton School experiences to their public service interests.
Orientation for the new class begins August 16 and classes begin August 24.
The class of 2017 includes:
Khalid Ahmadzai (Kabul, Afghanistan) – Ahmadzai is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in International Relations and Middle East Studies. He is a former executive government liaison for the International School of Kabul, Afghanistan and founder of Chaila Café, a coffeehouse in Kabul. Ahmadzai’s public service interests include education, sustainability, and assisting refugees.
Kristen Alexander (Little Rock, Ark.) – Alexander is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in English Literature and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman School of Public Health. She is a former intern at the Arkansas Trauma Rehabilitation Program and has taught English in a summer program for at-risk youth. Alexander’s public service interests include health policy and advocacy.
Ben Barber (Hartsdale, N.Y.) – Barber is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology. He is a former shelter coordinator and AmeriCorps member with the St. Louis Emergency Response Team and case management aide with Keep Austin Housed. Barber’s public service areas of interest include assisting homeless individuals and empowering individuals and communities.
Evan Brown (Memphis, Tenn.) – Brown is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Finance Management and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship. He is a former United States Peace Corps volunteer, where he served in Lesotho, Africa working on small business development and entrepreneurship education. Brown’s public service interests include small business development, education, and rural community development.
Nora Bouzihay (Jonesboro, Ark.) – Bouzihay is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in Biology. She is a former volunteer at a school in northern Morocco where she worked with blind youth and has experience with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center of Veterinary Medicine. Bouzihay hopes to help women and youth in the areas of human rights and rural area development.
Daniel Caruth (Morrilton, Ark.) – Caruth is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Journalism and Anthropology. He worked with the University of Arkansas Full Circle Food Pantry, the University of Arkansas Traveler newspaper as a writer, and served on the Volunteer Action Center board at the University of Arkansas. Caruth’s public service interests include food insecurity and free speech rights for journalists.
Stacy Cox (Little Rock, Ark.) – Cox is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana with a degree in Accounting. She is a former United States Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia, president of the Gender and Development Committee in Zambia, and current Heifer International volunteer. Cox hopes to continue to serve the public in areas of youth outreach, education, and gender and development.
Abigail Craig (Little Rock, Ark.) – Craig is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in Psychology and Philosophy. She is a former AmeriCorps member, working on an academically based program for at-risk youth called “Boys Hope Girls Hope” and a mentor for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program since 2009. Craig’s public service interests in public service include the welfare of vulnerable populations, specifically children.
Xochitl Delgado-Solorzano (Springdale, Ark.) – Delgado-Solorzano is a graduate of Hendrix College with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Literature and a graduate of the University of Kansas with a Master’s degree, also in Spanish Literature. She is a program associate at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, has experience with Heifer International, and the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock. Delgado-Solorzano hopes to continue to explore areas of public service including education, immigrant integration, and nonprofit development.
Sarah Fowlkes (Ann Arbor, Mich.) – Fowlkes is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Business Administration and is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business. She is former United States Peace Corps volunteer working as a community economic development advisor in Madagascar. Fowlkes’ public service interests include rural economic development, nutrition, and sustainability.
Cat French (Little Rock, Ark.) – French is a graduate of Hendrix College with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Master’s degree in Reading and Literacy. She is the co-author of the reading series Early Connections for Benchmark Education and the first edition textApprenticeship in Literacy: Transitions across Reading and Writing, and is a Clinton Foundation volunteer. French’s interests include human rights, literacy, and poverty.
Zachary Glembin (Milwaukee, Wis.) – Glembin is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Sociology. He has worked for City Year for the past four years in both Miami, Fla. and Milwaukee, Wis. serving high needs public schools to keep struggling students on track for graduation. Glembin’s public service areas of interests include education, economic development, entrepreneurship, and health care.
Thurman Green III (Pine Bluff, Ark.) – Green is a graduate of Philander Smith College with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He is a former retention coach at the University of Central Oklahoma and member of the Community Housing Development Organization board in Oklahoma City. Green hopes to continue to serve the public in education, community engagement, and economic development.
Zachary Hale (Huntsville, Ala.) – Hale is a graduate of Hendrix College with a degree in International Relations and is currently pursuing a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. He has served as a diplomatic assistant at the Mission of Montenegro to the European Union in Brussels and as an AmeriCorps member with Our House and Legal Aid of Arkansas. Hale’s public service interests include human rights law and digital rights law.
Mary Henthorn (Little Rock, Ark.) – Henthorn is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Master’s degree in Computer Science. She has held information technology positions with the National Park Service, United States Department of Agriculture, the State of Arkansas, and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Henthorn hopes to pursue public service positions in education and environmental sustainability.
Claire Hodgson (Russellville, Ark.) – Hodgson is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. She is a former AmeriCorps member at an after-school outreach program for homeless and near-homeless youth, and has developed public service/volunteerism curriculum for elementary students across Arkansas. Hodgson’s public service interests include mental health care advocacy, poverty alleviation, and providing sustainable food systems in inner cities.
Yohannis Job (Scarborough, Tobago) – Job is a graduate Huston-Tillostson University with a degree in Business Administration, focusing in Marketing. He has experience with the Austin (Texas) Urban League and Child in community outreach and finance. Job hopes to continue to serve in areas that include education, urban economic development, and natural resource exploration and development.
Salil Joshi (Shreveport, La.) – Joshi is a graduate of Emory University with a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and a graduate of Mississippi College with a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences. He has worked as a test preparation tutor, as a clinical researcher, and is the founder of TedxMarkhamSt. in Little Rock, Ark. Joshi’s public service interests include health management and policy, medicine, and education.
Emily Kearns (Little Rock, Ark.) – Kearns is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Political Science and is currently pursuing a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She has worked with the Pulaski County Board of Election and is a frequent volunteer on local political campaigns. Kearns hopes to continue to serve the public in areas of election law, economic development, and race and cultural diversity issues.
Miki Kunishige (Rapid City, S.D.) – Kunishige is a graduate of the University of South Dakota with a degree in International Studies and is currently pursuing a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. He is a United States Army veteran, has worked for Advocacy for Child Justice in Zambia, and Four Bands Community Fund in South Dakota. Kunishige’s public service interests include economic development, legal justice, and peace building.
Arjola Limani (Tirana, Albania) – Limani is a graduate of the European University in Tirana with a degree in Law. She has worked for Don Bosko Center for the Youths helping to implement and support youth activities in order to facilitate the social development of citizens. Limani’s public service interests include politics, education reform, and youth entrepreneurship.
Caitlin McAteer (Denver, Colo.) – McAteer is a graduate of Texas Christian University with a degree in Anthropology. As a Fulbright Teaching Assistant, she has worked within the Moroccan University system as an English professor and helped augment refugee acclimation and integration efforts within migrant-aiding organizations in Southern France. McAteer hopes to continue to serve the public in areas of education reform, refugee acclimation, and cross-cultural communication.
Piper Meeks (Nederland, Texas) – Meeks is a graduate of Lamar University with a degree in English and is currently pursuing a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She serves as a mentor to incoming law students at the Bowen School of Law and assists in a recovery and rehabilitation program to those who suffer from addiction. Meeks’ public service interests include education, mental health services, and gender rights.
Alexandre Meldem (Lausanne, Switzerland) – Meldem is a graduate of the Université de Fribourg – Faculté de Droit with a degree in Law. He is a former Sargent Explorer in the Swiss Army and the founding member of the city of Lausanne’s Youth Parliament. Meldem hopes to continue to serve the public in areas including peace and security, victim assistance, and international educational rights.
Colbert Nelson (Little Rock, Ark.) – Nelson is a graduate of the University of Tulsa with a degree in Exercise Sports Science and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman School of Public Health. He is a former mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and former tutor at the University of Tulsa. Nelson’s public service interests include health care access equality and education on health.
Shem Ngwira (Lilongwe, Malawi) – Ngwira is a graduate of the Catholic University of Malawi with a degree in Social Sciences and Political Leadership with a minor in History. He has served as a program officer for Civil Society Agriculture Network and as executive secretary for Citizen Alliance. Ngwira’s public service interests include urban waste management, youth entrepreneurship, and rural economic development.
Hunter Owen (Conway, Ark.) – Owen is a graduate of Hendrix College with a degree in History. He is a former AmeriCorps member with the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health’s Office of Community Based Public Health. Owen hopes to continue to serve the public in areas of public health, distributive justice, and workforce advocacy.
Beau Papan (Little Rock, Ark.) – Papan is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Economics and Political Science. He has experience on political campaigns, is a former market analyst intern for the University of Arkansas Division of Agribusiness/Agricultural Economics, and has volunteered for the Little Rock Marathon and Arkansas Food Bank. Papan hopes to explore economic development in the Arkansas Delta.
Elena Perry (Slobozia, Romania) – Perry is a graduate of the University of Bucharest with a degree in Foreign Languages Translation and Interpretation. She has worked with Romanian Children’s Relief in after school and early literacy programs for at-risk children. Perry hopes to continue to serve the public in areas of early childhood education, animal welfare, and poverty mitigation.
Rob Pillow (Jackson, Miss.) – Pillow is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in Public Policy Leadership. He has worked at Oxford Lafayette Economic Development Foundation where he helped boost local businesses and attract new jobs and on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska providing recreational activities for visitors. Pillow’s public service interests include economic development and environmental sustainability.
Keith Preciados (Miami, Fla.) – Preciados is a graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in Public Relations and Sociology. He is a former AmeriCorps member and has worked as a contracts manager for the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe where he managed contracts for over 1,000 schools for two state-funded early childhood initiative programs. Preciados hopes to explore public service areas including community development, education, and public health.
Yvonne Quek (Singapore) – Quek is a graduate of the National University of Singapore with a degree in Law. She has worked as a corporate attorney in Singapore and has experience raising funds for Saigon’s Children Charity in Ho Chi Minh City to help disadvantaged Vietnamese children gain access to education. Quek’s public service interests include corporate responsibility, environmental sustainability, and empowering disadvantaged women and girls.
Heather Rossi (Columbia, S.C.) – Rossi is a graduate of Wofford College with a degree in Biology. She is a former AmeriCorps member with South Carolina Campus Compact at the University of South Carolina-Upstate working on programs to increase financial literacy. Rossi’s public service interests include public policy, community development, and primary health care.
Merrill Jane Schmidt (Little Rock, Ark.) – Schmidt is a graduate of Colorado College with a degree in Southwest Studies. She is a former AmeriCorps member with the Denver Public Schools program, taught English as second language in Chile, and worked at Heifer International. Schmidt’s public service interests include sustainable development, environmental justice, food security, and education.
Marsha Scullark (West Memphis, Ark.) – Scullark is a graduate of Hendrix College with a degree in Biology. She has worked with Our House Family Shelter and Guiding Others in after-school programs for teens, and has volunteered at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Scullark hopes to continue to serve the public by exploring women’s health issues and mentoring teens.
Jeremiah Sniffin (Laramie, Wyo.) – Sniffin is a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a degree in English. He grew up in both the United States and Belize and has worked teaching environmental awareness to children in both countries. Sniffin’s public interests include international relations and environmental education.
Dimo Soliman (Alexandria, Egypt) – Soliman is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has spent time with high school students in the Arkansas Delta, helping to prepare them for college and spent time speaking to civic organizations about Middle East culture. Soliman hopes to continue to serve the public in areas education and cultural development.
Will Van Laningham (Fayetteville, Ark.) – Van Laningham is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Spanish and Philosophy. He is a former language and culture assistant in Madrid, Spain where he taught English. Van Laningham hopes to continue to serve the public in areas of education reform and English as a second language education.
Mary Wolf (Milwaukee, Wis.) – Wolf is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire with a degree in Social Work. She is a former initial assessment social worker with the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare and intern with Durban Children’s Home in Durban, South Africa. Wolf’s public service interests include youth empowerment, social justice, and mental health.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (August 6, 2015) – The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), the nation’s leading membership organization for emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector, is holding its annual national conference in Little Rock. Taking place on August 6 and followed by a two-day YNPN Leaders’ Institute at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, the event will bring 200 next-generation nonprofit leaders from around the country to Little Rock to advance careers, shift organizational thinking, and catalyze positive change in communities.
This year’s Conference includes a notable lineup of featured speakers from the sector:
Some of the highlights at the 2015 Conference will be:
YNPN would like to thank 2015 sponsors: the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Talent Philanthropy Project, Independent Sector, the Arkansas Community Foundation, the Clinton School, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Foundation Center, Fundly, City of Little Rock, Maestro Conference, Central Arkansas Library System, Opportunity Knocks, Nonprofit HR, Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance, TVP NYC, Westrock Coffee, ioby, JPMS Cox, Lost Forty Brewing, Golden Eagle Distributors, and AT&T Wireless.
A complete YNPN National Conference agenda can be found at: http://conference.ynpn.org/schedule
About the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network
Since 1997, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network has helped to activate emerging leaders by connecting them with resources, people, and ideas. With these leaders, we’re building a diverse and powerful social sector that can support and strengthen our communities. www.ynpn.org
For More Information
YNPN-Little Rock, Communications
Since 2009 the Clinton School Center on Community Philanthropy (The Center) has been a leader in conducting research and writing about philanthropy as an approach to delivering public service. This work includes faculty led research, over 25 Scholars-in-Residence and visiting philanthropy faculty from universities across the country. Our goal has been to illuminate innovations and make new models practical and available to communities who want to invigorate their philanthropy practices.
Building on this foundation of leadership, the Center announces its new initiative, The Community Philanthropy Researcher-in-Residence program designed to work with local nonprofits to build awareness around the importance of sector data, assessment tools and constituent feedback to help advance philanthropic and nonprofit practice. The Researcher-In- Residence will spend one semester supporting a local nonprofit’s staff members as they collect and organize data and utilize it in their work. The Center on Community Philanthropy will provide financial support for the position and access to data analysis expertise. Establishing this position will help nonprofits link with researchers in academia and show them how they can engage their skills to address issues of equity, inclusion and social justice. It will also create communities of learning where data and insights about work in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors help strengthen organizations.
Arkansas nonprofit organizations that are interested in building their capacity for data collection and analysis are encouraged to apply. Priority consideration will be given to those nonprofits that evidence prior research activity and or consistency in benchmarking performance goals. To apply for a Researcher-In-Residence for spring semester 2016, a letter of interest should be sent to Charlotte L. Williams DrPH, MPH, Associate Professor and Director of the Center on Community Philanthropy at University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Sturgis Hall, 1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201.
The deadline to apply is November 15th, 2015. Applications will be reviewed by faculty ad staff of the Clinton School Center on Community Philanthropy and the final choices for the awardee and their alternates will be made December 1, 2015. Successful awardees will be notified on or before December 7th, 2015.
Dr. Zeneli has led various projects in his home country, including the Albanian National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2014-2020 and the Annual Environmental Performance Audit of the Natural Resources Development Project. He has published and presented more than 70 articles and scientific papers in the field of forestry and environment (including publications in Tree Physiology and Oecologia).
He will be presenting a public lecture at the Clinton School on September 3 at 12 noon. His talk will center on the question of “Is there hope for the global environment in the long run?” and focus on EU policies and laws related to global ecological changes. Other visits, meetings and presentations are being planned in collaboration with the University of Arkansas Monticello’s School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the Arkansas Forestry Commission, and Arkansas Forestry Association, the USDA Forest Service, and the Nature Conservancy.
“’Having Dr. Zaneli represents a unique opportunity for Clinton School students, faculty, and staff, as well as others throughout Arkansas,” said Dean Skip Rutherford. “I am grateful to Dr. Christy Standerfer who has been instrumental in both arranging his visit and establishing the faculty exchange program with University Marin Barleti.”
Dr. Zeneli received a Ph.D. in Ecology from Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) after several years of research at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena (Germany). Prior to that, he earned a M.Sc. in Natural Products Chemistry from Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (Greece) and a degree of Diploma Engineer in forestry from Faculty of Forestry Sciences in Tirana (Albania).
He has served as Dean of Faculty of Integrated Studies with Practice in Durres, Albania; acting Director of the Barleti Institute of Research and Development in Tirana; and acting Dean of Faculty of Applied Sciences at University Marin Barleti.
About the Clinton School of Public Service
The first school in the nation to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service gives students the knowledge and experience to further their careers in the areas of nonprofit, governmental, volunteer or private sector service. The school embodies President Clinton’s vision of building leadership in civic engagement and enhancing people’s capacity to work across disciplinary, racial, ethnic and geographical boundaries. More information about the Clinton School is available at www.clintonschool.uasys.edu.
About University Marin Barleti and Albanian Institute of Public Affairs
Universiteti Marin Barleti is a private institution of higher education in Albania named after the 15th-century historian/humanist, Marin Barleti, author of the historic account on the Skanderbeg epics. The university was established in 2005 by Marin Barleti Ltd., which is part of DUDAJ Group. Its mission is to raise the standards of a higher level of education within Albania. The university is governed by a board of some of the most respected names in Albanian, including the former president of the country, Rexhep Mejdani.
The Albanian Institute for Public Affairs, housed within University Marin Barleti, is a recently established (2011) non-for-profit institution, that doesn’t pursue any political, commercial, business or religious agenda. AIPA is committed to making a real impact on the democratization process of Albanian society, through improving the process of policy-making in Albania at a local and central level, enhancing capacity-building and strengthening public participation in all social activities with a public interest.
More information about University Marin Barleti and Albanian Institute of Public Affairs is available at http://www.umb.edu.al
Elston Forte came to the 2015 Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp with a lot of passion. He left with a lot of focus.
Forte, who leads the Young Intellectual Active Minds (Y.I.AM) Project, was one of 22 participants at the boot camp, which paired aspiring social entrepreneurs with mentors from Arkansas, the United States and abroad to develop skills and knowledge needed to launch and/or scale a social enterprise. The boot camp, held July 17-19 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, was a partnership between the Institute, the Clinton School of Public Service, the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub.
Each team opened the boot camp by pitching their social enterprise to the panel of mentors. Forte was nearly overcome with emotion and energy as he talked about Y.I.AM, a program designed to reduce recidivism and increase positive outcomes for young African-American males.
“Your energy is great,” said Permjot Valia, the London-based CEO and founder of MentorCamp, “but it’s really getting in the way of your message. You need to find that balance between having enough emotion to keep us engaged and not having so much that your point gets lost.”
That and other feedback Forte and his team received in the next 48 hours proved to be invaluable. When he presented his revised pitch to the panel of mentors, and under the observance of Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford and Institute Executive Director Dr. Marta Loyd, he was poised, passionate and on point.
“The ability to break down and pinpoint the message for our organization was really valuable,” Forte said. “As a result of the boot camp, we’re going back and looking at our five-year business plan to make it a seven-year plan. We want to capitalize on all of the revenue streams we learned about.”
The progress made by each group was obvious, and they were each commended by the mentors for their hard work.
“The transformation and focus that they showed in the final presentations was truly remarkable,” Loyd said. “We saw that progress from every team, and it speaks directly to their character and perseverance and to the quality of the mentors at the boot camp.”
Joining Forte on the Y.I.AM team was Edward Roberts, Haley Shelton and Patrice Bax. Other social entrepreneurship groups participating were Kids Cook!, represented by Anaya Faith; USTED Corp., represented by Reginald Brown; Arkansas STEM Coalition, represented by Walter Burgess, Katherine Prewitt and Allison Nichols; Tesseract Studio, represented by David Fredrick, Keenan Cole, Chloe Costello, Taylor Yust, Hailey Ray and Gregory Rogers; Olive Loom, represented by Leah Garrett; Sweet, represented by Stephanie Harris; Support Groups United, represented by Jordan King and Danny Duong; Words to Grow On, represented by Dr. Peggy Sissel; Gabr Summer Institute, represented by Nathan Thomas; and Volunteer Network, represented by Natalia Topete.
The teams heard presentations from mentors and others, including an opening night interview of Steve Clark, founder of Propak, Inc. and co-founder of Rockfish and Noble Impact. They were also able to hear a social enterprise success story from Shea Halligan of Westrock Coffee. The rich content and variety of perspectives were part of what made the boot camp so valuable to the participants.
“The high-level work that the participants achieved in one weekend shows the importance and value of social entrepreneurs in Arkansas in solving our most pressing social issues,” said Nikolai DiPippa, director of public programs and strategic partnerships at the Clinton School of Public Service. “I look forward to watching the participants become thought leaders in this field and creating positive social impact.”
DiPippa and Valia were joined in serving as mentors by Phyl and Jeff Amerine, co-founders of Startup Junkie Consulting; Dr. Carol Reeves, associate vice-provost of entrepreneurship at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas; Dr. Cynthia Sides, associate director for the Office of Entrepreneurship and the director of the IGNITE (Industry Generating New Ideas and Technology through Education) program at the University of Arkansas; Trish Flanagan, co-founder of Picasolar and Noble Impact; Ben Kaufman, research officer for the Walton Family Foundation; and John Montgomery, chairman emeritus and senior legal advisor at Montgomery & Hansen, LLP in California.
Montgomery gave a presentation Saturday night about benefit corporations, a legal standing for companies so they can be measured both by profit growth and by social impact.
“One of our takeaways is we’re going to explore the benefit corporation status,” Forte said.
Reeves told the participants at the end of the boot camp that she felt energized by the work that had been done, and that she looked forward to future work in the area of social entrepreneurship in Arkansas.
“The participants came in with open minds, a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic, which made it possible for them to accomplish in 48 hours what would normally take months of work,” Reeves said. “All of the participants came in with passion; they left with a much better understanding of what it will take to make their ideas a reality and how to inspire others to join them in their efforts. The world-class mentors were blown away by the progress the participants made during the weekend, and they are anxious to see how these social entrepreneurs will transform the state.”
About the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute
In 2005, the University of Arkansas System established the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute with a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. By integrating the resources and expertise of the University of Arkansas System with the legacy and ideas of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, this educational institute and conference center creates an atmosphere where collaboration and change can thrive.
Program areas include Agriculture, Arts and Humanities, Civic Engagement, Economic Development, and Health. To learn more, call 501-727-5435, visit the website at www.rockefellerinstitute.org, or stay connected through Twitterand Facebook.
About the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship
The mission of the University of Arkansas’ Office of Entrepreneurship is to catalyze entrepreneurial activities and innovation across the university and throughout the state in order to build Arkansas’ knowledge-based economy. Established in 2011, the Office of Entrepreneurship has led commercialization retreats for faculty from the research universities in the state, supported student and faculty commercialization activities, integrated University of Arkansas research with demand-driven innovation needs in the state through the IGNITE program, and hosted several social entrepreneurship events.
University of Arkansas students have led the world in national and international business plan competitions since 2009, winning almost twice as many competitions as the next closest competitor. Students have won over $2.3 million in prize money, established 13 high-growth businesses, and raised almost $30 million to build their companies. Visit. http://entrepreneurship.uark.edu for more information.
About the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub
The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub (www.arhub.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing innovative and entrepreneurial activity in Arkansas by creating a collaborative ecosystem and pipelines that mobilize the resources, programs and educational opportunities necessary to develop, attract and retain talent and to build the state’s economy.