Innovations Project

In 2009, AOSN received a grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation to increase the capacity of two local communities to develop a common vision, broad community engagement, critical partnerships, and the political will to establish and sustain quality, school-based/school-linked afterschool and summer programs. AOSN will work with these communities to implement best practice tools and strategies for building and sustaining a coalition, and will provide ongoing technical support through October 2011.


AOSN will utilize a community engagement process called “Study Circles”.  This approach will create a sustainable local afterschool initiative by engaging a broad-based grassroots segment of the community in structured discussions about out-of-school time. The process is ideal because in it: everyone is equal, everyone is included, no special experience is needed to participate, each participant has the opporutnity to make an impact, and meaningful dialogue can and often does lead to action. Study circles help people find common ground and build trusting relationships, which are the foundation of building successful collaborative relationships.


We believe that it is imperative that citizens be engaged in discussions of how, as a state and as a community, they might create long-term investment in quality afterschool and summer programming that keeps young people safe, supports academic achievement, families and helps connect what they are learning to the world of work. The Study Circles process is a proven method. Our partners in this project is the Arkansas School Board Association.

The two local communities that we have chosen are the Lake Village/ Eudora Community in Chicot County and The University District in Pulaski County.
You may view their profiles by clicking on one of the communities below. 

Lake Village/Eudora Community

resource type: info    

AOSN will assist The Lake Village/Eudora community in utilizing a community engagement process called “Study Circles,” to involve  a broad-based grassroots segment of the community in structured discussions about quality afterschool and summer programs and how they can develop such programs in their community. Following the “Study Circles” process AOSN will provide ongoing support and technical assistance to help the community implement the action items they have identified.

We held our first training for the community organizing group on September 29, 2009 in Eudora, Ar. We had more than 20 participants from all segments of the community to attend this orientation meeting. After a great day of training the group was energized and ready to hit the ground running to plan the logistics and start recruiting study circle participants.

Following the community organizing training we held the facilitator and recorders training in Dumas Arkansas on October 26, 2009. This training was designed for those people who will be facilitating and recording the discussions.

The Study Circles took place November 10, 12, 17 and 19th from 5pm to 7pm each night. Three study circles took place, one in Lake Village, Arkansas at the local hospital and two in Eudora, Arkansas at the local community center.

Week 1:   21                       Week 3:     34


Week 2:    21                      Week 4:      30

 On December 1st we held the action forum in Eudora, Arkansas. There was great participation in the action forum with more than 40 people in attendance. All three groups reported out on what they identified as action items for the community to address.

The primary theme for the action ideas centered around having an out of the box after school program, stop competiveness between communities, combat teen pregnancy, expose students to diverse cultures/communities, adults as volunteers to effect positive change, increase overall volunteerism in the community through involvement in Parent/Teachers Associations, Community Service Projects and mentoring.  Other major themes were the lack of parental engagement in the school and communities and a lack of jobs. Ideas also centered on working better with the school district and established institutions like parent involvement centers around ways to better address out of school time.

Next Steps

Now that the discussions have been held and some generalized action steps have been identified discussions must now be held as to how we are going to move forward and sustain the project. Once the action forum was completed, individuals were asked to sign up to work in different work groups. As the coalition moves forward it is very important that we re-visit the goals of the coalition make sure that the goals follow the following characteristics: 

Believable - They should describe situations or conditions that the coalition believes can be

achieved, avoiding "pie- in-the-sky" goals that members do not believe nor find possible to do.

Attainable - It should be possible to do the goals in the designated time.

Tangible - The goals should be capable of being understood or realized.

On a Timetable - A completion date should be included in the goal statement.


We have set up the Chicot County Out of School Coalition with an idea of “Turning Goals into Action.” The coalition has had four meetings. AOSN will provide technical assistance in helping them decide what must be done and in what order.

UALR University Partership District

resource type: info    

The second community that we have selected is the University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR) University District Educational Network (UDEN). The University District comprises a 3.5 square mile area and includes neighborhoods in close proximity to the UALR. This project will help UDEN engage a broader array of partners in the University District to develop a plan to move UALR and the community to action as it relates to afterschool and summer programming.

 We met according to the following Schedule:

We held the first community orientation meeting for Thursday, August 5, 2010 6 p.m. to 8 p.m with more than 20 people in attendance.

We held the community organizing meeting on August the 17, 2010 with more than 15 people in attendance.

We held an organizational brainstorming session on September 9, 2010 with more than 12 people in attendance. Organizational Planning Session Report

We held the facilitators and recorders training on October 28, 2010.

The Study Circles met according to the following schedule: 

Group one (Tues/Thurs 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) met at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center.
Group two (Sat 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) met at UALR’s Bailey Center.
Group three (Mon/Wed 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.) met at the Clubhouse in the Madison Heights Apartment Community.

At the Action Forum it was determined we need a two-pronged approach, at least for this next quarter of our game plan:

1)      The TAKING IT TO THE STREETS Campaign

2)      The MAKING IT S-I-M-P-L-E Campaign

The Taking it to the Streets team will focus on reaching out to people where they are and getting more voices involved in this conversation.  Specifically, their goal will be to hold more Study Circles or focus groups over the next few months so that we will be able to deliver a more complete report card and assessment of what we, as a community, think our children and youth need us to be doing.

The Making it S-I-M-P-L-E team will focus on making it easier for parents and caregivers to find out about and contact all of the different resources that our community already provides for children and families. Specifically, their goal will be to create a directory of resources that will be both appealing and accessible to families in our neighborhoods.

Here is a list of resource material that was used for this site to generate support and excitement: