The Arkansas Public Policy Panel, and its coalition network the Arkansas Citizens First Congress, have long understood the importance of creating positive conditions for children to grow, learn and succeed. However, major institutional roadblocks, which have resulted from structural racism, must be addressed from a public policy standpoint before significant change will be realized. For example, Arkansas has a stark educational achievement gap between the children of color and their white counterparts– near 30 points on both reading and math by 8th grade.
In addition to targeting long-term societal issues, this project will address current concerns including Arkansas’ education achievement gap and the state’s failure to provide a grievance procedure when civil rights are violated. By deepening the working relationships among current stakeholders, project activities will help develop a shared analysis and add infrastructure for long-term work, ensuring that disenfranchised communities - especially rural African Americans and Latinos – are able to organize and take their place in shaping policy. By convening community members and leaders to discuss issues and resolve problems in their communities, the project will offer Arkansans opportunities to work with each other to achieve policy change and forge new relationships.