As part of a commitment to tackle challenging social and environmental problems that plague people and communities, the Walton Foundation has presented the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff with a $750,000 pilot grant. The grant will provide direct funding toward building and expanding leadership development opportunities for UAPB students through a UAPB student Leadership Academy.
The Leadership Academy is a unique opportunity to focus on skill development and enhanced student exposure, according to UAPB Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Elbert Bennett. “UAPB is uniquely positioned to impact the lives of a first-generation college students,” said Bennett. “This grant will allow us to introduce students to non-traditional learning experiences and key decision-making opportunities that can literally transform their future.”
According to UAPB Major Gifts Officer Dr. Joyvin Benton, who served as the lead staffer on the grant, the gift is a three-year initiative. The three years allow for full UAPB student engagement in on-campus and off-site learning experiences with key stakeholders and professional mentors. Dr. Benton explains that “too often, first-generation college students miss the chance to engage in real-life situations. The Leadership Academy is designed to fill that gap by exposing the students to people who can assist them in learning how to maneuver through work and life.”
“Encouraging and supporting home-grown leaders is essential to building and sustaining a bright future for the Delta,” said Kim Davis, senior advisor with the Walton Family Foundation. “With a deep bench of talent already in the region, the Emerging Scholars and Leadership Program is well-positioned to cultivate the next generation through invaluable programming that includes academic support, mentorship, and leadership opportunities.”
According to UAPB Chancellor Dr. Laurence Alexander, the gift acknowledges the great work the university continues to do in the state. “The support from the Walton Foundation confirms that UAPB remains an institutional leader in changing the lives of the next generation of leaders,” said Alexander.
The gift also represents one of the largest single gifts to the university. According to UAPB Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement George Cotton, Sr., “We remain encouraged at the level of support that this university continues to receive. In addition, the Walton grant serves as confirmation that UAPB is a catalyst in expanding social mobility and economic vitality across the state”. Through its work to improve education, environmental health, and the quality of life in its Home Region, the Walton Foundation has pledged to support innovative ideas and strategies that enhance Arkansas, particularly the people of the Delta region.