Arkansas-Focused Practicum Projects Announced for 2023-24

Ten teams of first-year students from the Clinton School of Public Service will complete Arkansas-focused public service projects in partnership with businesses, public agencies, community initiatives, and nonprofit organizations across the state during the 2023-24 academic year.

The first-year Practicum is a closely mentored, team-based project in Arkansas, and the first of three major field service projects for Clinton School students. Throughout the year, students are challenged to become integral parts of the communities they are serving while creating immediate and long-term impact for the organizations.

This year’s project work includes developing a strategy for youth engagement and violence reduction with the Little Rock Police Department, investigating barriers faced by members of majority-minority communities on their paths to homeownership, and the repurposing of a community center in the Arkansas Delta to best meet community needs.

“This year, Clinton School students have the opportunity to tap into so many important social issues in Arkansas,” said Dr. Nichola Driver, Executive Director of the Office of Field Service. “The variety of projects demonstrates that public service skills translate across sectors – government, nonprofit, and for profit. We are so thankful for our fantastic partner organizations for their time and dedication to mentor a new generation of public service leaders.”

Clinton School students will participate in the projects while also completing first-semester coursework on topics such as program planning and development, field research, and communication.

Encore Bank

Team: Brandon Brooks, Aaron Conrad, Kali Griscom, Olugbenga Olaoye

The Clinton School team will work with Encore Bank to investigate barriers faced by members of majority-minority communities on their paths to homeownership.

Students will conduct community-engaged research by interviewing renters, real estate agents, developers, landlords, community leaders and activists, and check-cashing businesses, among others.

The team will provide the organization with recommendations for processes, products, or outreach strategies to better serve majority-minority communities on their path to home ownership.

Celebrate Maya

Team: Evelyn Enriquez, Jennifer Rhoads, Sophia Sanders, Vida Torgbe

Celebrate Maya is looking to expand programming in ways that may include an after-school tutoring and mentoring program to benefit youth in the Little Rock Central High School district.

The Clinton School team will conduct an environmental scan of available programs and resources in the areas of literacy, writing, math, and soft skills; needs and gaps in services and resources provided; and opportunities for partnership.

These efforts will help inform the Celebrate Maya’s strategic plan and help identify next steps. The Clinton School team’s recommendations will also include plans or an outline for future programming.

Little Rock Police Department

Team: Sharon Boateng, Petro Kosho, Janet Schwieger, Tah-jai Sharpe

The Clinton School team will assist with the development of a strategy for youth engagement and violence reduction for the Little Rock Police Department.

The team will help facilitate constructive dialogue, focus groups, and peace-building efforts to engage youth, community members, and key stakeholders to identify attitudes of youth towards the police, sentiments on ideal outcomes for youth, the reality faced by youth due to issues of violence, and the role of the family as a vehicle for shared responsibility of youth.

Students will also conduct best practice research to help improve police-youth interactions.

UAMS Women’s Mental Health Clinic

Team: Evanna Ojeda, Jenna Ronquest, Tori Scott

“Garrett’s law” is a civil statute in Arkansas that pertains to the use of substances during pregnancy and directs child protective services involvement.

The Clinton School team will explore the impact of this statute on the state of Arkansas, potentially research similar state statutes across the nation, and develop recommendations on how the statute may or may not need revision to be better aligned with the current culture and treatment options available in Arkansas.

Creative Institute of Central Arkansas

Team: Greg Albright, Juliana Bledsoe, Shannon Kenney, Will Staton

The Clinton School team will work with the Creative Institute of Central Arkansas to design and deliver a preliminary feasibility study for the creation of a mixed-use arts building, envisioned as a key development in the formation of an arts corridor or arts district in Conway.

The study will focus on learning the particular needs of local artists and creative businesses.

Teach for America Greater Delta: Mississippi and Arkansas

Team: Hannah Malone, DuShun Scarbrough, Sarah Wambura, Jasmine Whitaker

The Clinton School team will work with Teach for America Greater Delta to determine the best use of a local community building in ways that advance educational equity in a low-income area.

The community building previously housed a community center that was an integral part of the organization’s impact, but the Covid-19 pandemic forced the center’s closure. Now, the center has slowly begun to reopen, and Teach for America Greater Delta will re-envision the space and how it can better meet community needs.

In addition to addressing how the building can meet community needs, Clinton School students will also research how it can help children meet key education milestones and measures of economic mobility, and how the space can take advantage of the broader incubator and collaborative space movements.

Arkansas 211

Team: Karlie Barnett, Richard Millard, Penelope Nortey

The Clinton School team will work with Arkansas 211, a statewide program headquartered at the United Way of Northwest Arkansas, to evaluate and identify the gaps in a database of critical resources for the state.

The resource database is a free, confidential, 24-hour, multilingual way to connect individuals and families to critical local resources serving all of Arkansas.

The students will outline a plan for the expansion of the resource database and create a more comprehensive and robust system while helping close the resource gap across the state. This plan will increase the capacity of Arkansas 211 to connect individuals and families to critical local resources, including food, shelter, rental assistance, childcare, and more. The database expansion will allow callers to be matched with the best and closest resources in their community.

Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce

Team: Sebastian Bea-Hernandez, Christinah Hambira, Brighton Huynh, Afolabi Salami

The Clinton School team will work with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to find ways to empower and strengthen minority and women-owned businesses in the region in order to diversify the procurement process and increase the number of accessible suppliers.

This project will include gathering data on all minority and women-owned businesses through outreach and community engagement in order to create a map of each business location, product, and capacity; combining the data collection and mapping into an MBE portal; and allocating the necessary resources to continually update the procurement portal in order to increase the number of minority business enterprises over the next 3-5 years.

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts

Team: Rebecca Billy, Madeline Fralia, Bri Hill, Sabrina Johnson

The Clinton School team will create a DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion) analysis report for the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. This report will include research on the organization’s current state and comparison to other arts museums in their DEAI practices.

Students will explore which of these efforts have had the most success and what challenges were experienced with these efforts, and seek feedback from AMFA stakeholders to determine which is the best course of implementation. Additionally, the students’ work may include gathering information on the public’s perception of AMFA and its DEAI practices and policies.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful

Team: Kristina Garlington, Toyosi Idris, Daniela Montalvo, Stanley Rousseau

This Clinton School team will work with Keep Arkansas Beautiful to gather an understanding of Arkansans’ perception and understanding of litter.

The students will seek to understand why people litter, where the behavior is learned, attitudes toward litter, what people believe is needed to reduce it, and what resources they need specifically to combat it.

Students will collect data from teens and adults. Findings will be utilized to create a tiered community improvement plan that can be provided to any community at any level to implement in a phased approach.

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