Forward Arkansas Invests $3.6 Million to Support Educator Preparation Programs at Southern Arkansas University and UA-Little Rock

Forward Arkansas Invest Millions to Support Educator Preparation Programs at Southern Arkansas University and UA-Little Rock
Will continue Design Collaborative program for all eight universities

As part of our Educator Preparation Program (EPP) Design Collaborative, we announced the recipients of our phase II implementation grants - Southern Arkansas University (SAU) in Magnolia and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA-Little Rock). With cumulative funding of $3.6 million over the next three years, which includes direct funding to the universities and comprehensive ongoing technical assistance from expert partners, the universities’ goals are to increase the quantity, quality and diversity of Arkansas’s teacher workforce. We also announced the continuation of the overall Design Collaborative for all eight universities from the program’s first phase to continue supporting their transformative work and provide ongoing opportunities for collaboration for an additional two years.

“We are very excited to support SAU and UA-Little Rock. They developed bold, innovative plans for transformation and have the potential to dramatically impact the teacher pipeline in the regions they serve as well as the state more broadly,” said Ben Kutylo, executive director of Forward Arkansas. “The decisions were difficult. Overall, we were humbled by the commitment, engagement and hard work of all eight participating universities over the last year of the Design Collaborative. It exceeded our expectations. Therefore, to maintain the momentum, we are committing to an additional two years of the Collaborative and look forward to supporting the transformative work that will continue.”

The plans for SAU and UA-Little Rock focus on increasing the number and diversity of candidates entering and graduating from their programs and transforming the entire experience for teacher candidates to be more practice-based, so teachers are ready for their classrooms on day one. Some of the innovations within the plans include:

  1. Year-long paid “residencies” where candidates spend a year working in a partner school as a teacher or paraprofessional while still in training and with support from dedicated mentor teachers.
  2. Strong, ongoing and collaborative partnerships with local districts to better understand the evolving needs of K-12 students and inform the transformation of the university programs.
  3. Capturing robust data on teacher candidates and graduates in their first five years in the profession to support continuous improvement.

About the EPP Collaborative
In 2021, we launched the EPP Design Collaborative, a competitive grant program to identify universities committed to addressing Arkansas’s teacher workforce challenge. Since then, we've supported eight participating universities with resources and guidance from national experts U.S. PREP and 2Revolutions to develop phase II plans for transformation. Sixteen of Arkansas’s 19 universities EPPs applied for the Design Collaborative, and eight were chosen to participate - Arkansas State University, Arkansas Tech University, Harding University, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and University of Central Arkansas.