PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Due in large part to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s mission, the institution educates a disproportionate number of students who would not be able to afford a college education without assistance beyond grants and loans. Hardship cases are not uncommon to UAPB’s students; all too often, such situations are very common. Each year, more than $400k in donations are made available to students for tuition, fees, books, and school supplies.
The Hartfield Initiative is the brainchild of Dr. Freddie Hartfield, professor of mathematics at UAPB and was expanded by UAPB alumnus Bishop Chester Thompson. The Initiative has as its goal to raise $100,000 over a five-year period (October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2017). All funds donated to the Hartfield Initiative will be matched dollar-for-dollar through a grant from the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Institutional Service, Title III Program.
The Initiative has been raising money through a series of Gospel Extravaganzas in local cities. The first two were held in Camden and West Memphis. The next concert will be held Sunday, April 6 at 4:00 p.m. at St. James United Methodist Church located 900 University Dr. in Pine Bluff. Among the choirs to perform is Yard Voice of Praise, an ensemble comprised of UAPB students. The final concert will be held in Little Rock on May 4 at Christway Baptist Church.
While the extent of student need has remained relatively constant, significant changes are noted in its defining characteristics. Rural and small town poor are now joined by the urban poor, with all of the complexities that the urban descriptor suggests. Some students attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) are from families who may be or have been homeless, who have a history of family unemployment, and/or who simply present themselves on campus with the announcement, “I want to go to college”. And yet, when they have been able to put together sufficient funds (often from a variety of sources: jobs, loans, family and friends, and various forms of aid) many of the students have performed outstandingly both in the classroom and in campus leadership positions.
The planning committee, comprised of Dr. Freddie Hartfield, Dr. Chester Thompson, Dr. Vera Lang-Brown (Chair), and Mrs. Birlee Lever has worked tirelessly with the goal of seeing the Initiative to fruition. The Office of University Relations and Development at UAPB has served as support to the committee.
For more information about the events, please call (870)575-8701.