Image: WRF partners discuss how to help build a thriving and prosperous Arkansas that benefits all residents
The story revealed by the data collected during the Foundation's Reflection, Analysis, and Planning (RAP) process is a study in contrasts—the tremendous accomplishments throughout Moving the Needle by the Foundation and its many public, private, and nonprofit partners, juxtaposed with entrenched systems that have inhibited further progress.
To analyze what lessons the past could provide to inform the future, Foundation staff developed RAP Papers. This series of papers offers a deeper dive into topics that extend further back in time to show the history of the Foundation's strategies and impact leading up to and including Moving the Needle.
The asset-building and program-related investment (PRI) RAP Papers reflect the myriad strategies, tools, and resources WRF has deployed to build community wealth. Grants and PRIs provided to southern financial institutions, economic development agencies, and education initiatives have been leveraged to increase residents’ capacity to gain post-secondary education, garner higher earnings, grow small businesses, and own homes.
WRF has made significant strides in improving early education and care, including securing the governor’s buy-in for the goal of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-level Reading (AR-GLR) to prepare every Arkansas student to read at grade-level by the end of third grade, funding effective programs to boost school attendance, supporting advocacy to end suspensions and expulsions for K-5 students, and moving the state to invest in evidence-based home visiting programs.
WRF’s higher education strategies have opened doors for more under-resourced residents to access and succeed in college: immigrant youth, especially DREAMers; African American, Latino, and low-income white males; individuals with disabilities; and single parents. WRF’s deep investment in the community college system and the success of its students as a result of the Career Pathways Initiative is now a model for the rest of the nation.
WRF’s work to advance immigrant voice and economic success in Arkansas, and its strong commitment to public policy that works, together demonstrate how WRF has used advocacy, organizing and civic engagement strategies in concert with compelling research to achieve meaningful results. WRF has helped nurture immigrant organizations’ leadership, capacity, visibility, and credibility in Arkansas as well as the rest of the nation. Its policy grants have increased and sustained the capacity of advocates to engage and represent underserved communities and create laws that increase prosperity for all Arkansans as well as fight harmful policy proposals.
Disclosure: Lisa Ranghelli wrote this blog post on behalf of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), in fulfillment of a contract between WRF and NCRP. At the time the consulting contract was initiated, WRF President and CEO Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury was Board Chair for NCRP. As with other consultants involved in the Foundation’s Reflection, Analysis, and Planning (RAP) process, NCRP was compensated for writing this content on what the Foundation learned during its year of Analysis.