The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

UAPB's Great Work in the Delta; & Please Register for Oct. 17-18 Delta Event

Posted on July 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

UAPB’s Community Economic Development Accomplishments in the Delta; and Please Register for Oct. 17-18 Delta Conference in Memphis

The Delta Grassroots Caucus would like to convey this information about the many constructive activities conducted by the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s (UAPB) Economic Research and Development Center (ERDC), directed by Henry Golatt, who is a longstanding and steadfast partner of our regional grassroots coalition.

This is a continuation of our series of messages highlighting a number of organizations that are doing the difficult but highly rewarding work of promoting community and economic development in the Delta.

Pine Bluff is the largest city in southeast and east central Arkansas with a population of slightly less than 50,000 people. UAPB is the largest university in southeast Arkansas. The university and City of Pine Bluff work in partnership together and with other institutions working in the Delta, as Henry Golatt’s presentation discussed below demonstrates.

NOTE: Please register for the Oct. 17-18, 2013 Delta Caucus conference at the Memphis Agri-Center International. We have many hundreds of details to cover in preparation for this conference and those interested will need to be registered in order to be guaranteed space.

You register by sending in the registration fees checks. The registration is $125 for those who have NOT paid annual membership dues, and $100 for those who have paid the minimum $25 annual membership dues.

GROUP DISCOUNT: For those who can get a group of at least five people from one local area to register, we will give a group discount down to $75 for each attendee. This is to help cut your costs and to bring in new partners into the organization.

Please make out the registration fees checks to “Delta Caucus” and mail to our office in the Washington, DC area:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, Maryland 20601

FARM BILL NUTRITION AND AID TO FAMILY FARMERS WILL BE TOP PRIORITIES FOR OCT. 17-18 DELTA CONFERENCE: The great majority of Delta Grassroots Caucus partners are supportive of SNAP (food stamps) and other USDA nutrition programs as well as aid for family farmers. We will have many participants with extensive expertise and influence at the Oct. 17-18 Memphis conference.

Pine Bluff is located in Jefferson County, Arkansas. Approximately one in four people in the county live in poverty, but UAPB, the city of Pine Bluff, county and other local officials, private sector, and their state and federal colleagues are hard at work on a series of constructive activities for a brighter future for their area. This message is in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due to UAPB and their many partners in southeast Arkansas.

In this newsletter message we will cover the following subjects:

  1. Summary of Henry Golatt of UAPB’s Presentation at the Delta Conference in the Clinton Library on May 3, 2013

  2. Information on projects of UAPB’s Economic Research and Development Center in job creation, community economic development, technology transfer and other constructive activities

  3. Information about one of UAPB’s partners: TOPPS, Inc. (Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service), a nonprofit promoting healthy food choices, education, mentoring and other innovative programs for young people in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County, Arkansas

Henry Golatt gave an excellent presentation on the “big picture” regional development panel at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library at the Delta regional conference on May 3, 2013. We would like to begin with a brief summary of his remarks at that time.

Contact Information: Director, Mr. Henry Golatt, Phone: (870) 575-8030 email:

Summary of Henry Golatt’s Presentation at the Delta Conference in the Clinton Library Great Hall on May 3, 2013

In reviewing the large number of community economic development that UAPB and its partners are engaging in, Golatt emphasized that it is often said that economic development is a “contact sport,” and in that spirit a few years ago the UAPB Economic Research and Development Center (ERDC) moved off campus and located their facility in downtown Pine Bluff to have a broader impact in the heart of the city.

UAPB is referred to as the flagship of the Arkansas Delta, and that causes them to work diligently to live up to that designation. The university does not just do economic development, but community economic development in which they work with social entrepreneurs, community development corporations and other local organizations in addition to small businesses to get them started.

“We’re proud to say that one of our partners recently received national recognition on Brian Williams Rock Center program,” in which Chelsea Clinton of NBC National news interviewed Annette Dove, executive director of the exemplary TOPPS program for helping young people with nutrition, tutoring, and many other activities in Pine Bluff.

Ms. Annette Dove of TOPPS is one of UAPB’s partners and she was featured on NBC national news for her beneficial work in reading and mentoring programs, nutrition, and many other helpful programs for at risk-students in the local area (detailed information about TOPPS can be found below in this article).

Another example of the ERDCs innovative projects was in providing seed funding to help establish a print shop in which students enrolled in TOPPS program could gain entrepreneurial experience by operating the small business (TOPPS Graphics), thus getting hands-on experience and skills in the real business world.

ERDC has run an incubator since 2006 that has produced a number of successes. Two of the successes of the incubator are two charter schools that are have a multi-state footprints but are sponsored locally. One of the schools (Lighthouse Academies if Pine Bluff, Inc. serves elementary and the other school – Quest Middle School of Pine Bluff – serves middle students in the Pine Bluff area.
Lighthouse was housed within the UAPB-Business Support Incubator (UAPB-BSI) for just over one year. Quest has been housed at within the Incubator since January of this year (2013). Since leaving the Incubator, Lighthouse has occupied an existing vacant private school in downtown Pine Bluff and is now up and running and providing a much needed service to the community as well as employing local residents.

Quest, like Lighthouse before them, is using the UAPB-Business Support Incubator as a launching pad to recruit students and staff and to hold public meetings with parents and community members. Quest is currently remodeling a facility in another area of town that is in need of reinvestment. While Quest is expected to occupy its new facility in August at the start of the new school year, the company has additional goals of establishing a local school to serve high school students.

The UAPB center works on a business retention and expansion (BRE) via a BRE program for micro-enterprises in conjunction with the City of Pine Bluff. ERDC’s BRE program focuses on the food service industries, especially in promoting healthy food choices. In comments that we feel sure many Delta Caucus partners will find similar to situations in many Delta areas, he said that often low to moderate income communities do not have easy access to nutritious foods, so they have to go to convenience stores or eat fried food or fast food.

To address this issue in the Pine Bluff market, UAPB worked with a dietitian to establish a new food service business (Tastesetter Eatery) within the incubator facility to expand healthy food choices in downtown Pine Bluff. As a outcome of their presence and partnership with UAPB and as a testament to the quality of the food product provided by the eatery and as a way of the local community embracing the concept of local healthy food, the eatery was able to secure a contract with the local community college to provide healthy food choices in a college environment.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus commends UAPB for its focus on healthy food choices, because many of the health problems in our region are related to poor nutrition in the form of obesity, diabetes, heart trouble and other nutrition-related health problems.

In another notable accomplishment, UAPB partners with the City of Pine Bluff to establish the UAPB-City of Pine Bluff Revolving Loan Fund. The revolving loan fund, in which the City of Pine Bluff matches dollars contributed by UAPB, provides much needed start-up capital to local entrepreneurs. The loan program also benefits from an extended partnership that is leveraged by the participation of a local community-based bank that services the loans made through the program. The revolving loan fund has thus far funded 16 businesses in the local area and UAPB is looking to do another round of funding to help other businesses going forward.

UAPB is heavily involved in revitalization efforts in two areas: downtown Pine Bluff, as demonstrated by their decision to move the center’s facility downtown and University Park.

University Park is the area and neighborhood around the UAPB campus. UAPB is one of the 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Golatt pointed out that historically most HBCUs are in the South and are located in neighborhoods that are lacking in economic development. The center has worked with its partners in developing a master plan for the development of the area around the UAPB campus.

As a result of years of outreach by several local organizations and groups including UAPB and supported by comprehensive plans and studies conducted by ERDC and others, federal highway dollars are now being utilized to revitalize Highway 79 in front of the campus. The City of Pine Bluff, in partnership with ERDC, has a larger scale goal of working to get a designation for this highway as a scenic by-way that will go from Pine Bluff to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas.

“As the work on U.S. Highway 79 is being done, we’re working to leverage the federal dollars to the benefit of small minority businesses and other businesses up and down the corridor,” Golatt said. Via a grant to the City of Pine Bluff, the area has also benefited from Delta Regional Authority funding to make improvements in utilities and streets in the area. “We are very grateful for the support of DRA in this initiative.”

UAPB is also partnering with Hope Credit Union/Hope Enterprise Corporation on a neighborhood development center including town houses and single family units in the U.S. 79/University Drive Corridor.

In another partnership with HOPE, the Center and HOPE Credit Union are conducting a project in which students from UAPB will run and operate the credit union that will be a new addition to the center’s downtown incubator facility. ERDC is also working on other projects that will engage UAPB students by letting them run small businesses themselves.

Again demonstrating UAPB’s wider involvement in the community, the university, via ERDC and other departments, does summer camps for middle school students as well as another program for high school students that utilizes the junior achievements/4-H models.

Golatt concluded by thanking the Delta Grassroots Caucus for the opportunity to share what UAPB and their partners are doing in Pine Bluff. “It takes all of this working together, and it’s not easy work but it’s the most rewarding work you’ll ever do” in working for a brighter future for the Greater Delta Region.

Henry Golatt, Director University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Economic Research and Development Center UAPB-Business Support Incubator and Office Complex UAPB Plaza Mailing Address 1200 North University Drive Mail Slot 4943 Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 Physical Address

UAPB Business Support Incubator and Office Complex 615 Main Street Suite 236 Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 UAPB Plaza 2003 North University Drive Pine Bluff, Arkanas 71601 870-575-7120 (Office) 870-575-4670 (Fax)

Overview of the Economic Research and Development Center at UAPB

The Economic Research and Development Center (ERDC) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a division of the School of Business and Management. Since its inception in 1986, ERDC has served as a full-service business and community economic development outreach program for UAPB by providing services to individuals from client groups that include aspiring and existing business owners, community, grassroots, and faith-based organizations, and local governments. The purpose of the center is to address the economic concerns of eastern and southeastern Arkansas by mobilizing and engaging the resources of the University and other appropriate sources.

Business Development:

Business development is another important component of the Center’s portfolio of service. This category encompassesthe following two types of programs:

Business Assistance

This aspect of Business Development category was primarily designed to provide management and technical assistance to entrepreneures in southeastern Arkansas and minorities statewide.

 To provide assistance to clients in the preparation of feasibility studies, busintess plans, and financial packages.  To aid in the development of stable markets for Arkansas products and services.

Technology Transfer

This program was specifically designed and implemented to identify and research new and/or expanded technologies that can support new and existing enterprises, including cluster businesses in southeastern Arkansas.

 To stimulate and promote growth and development of small-and medium-sized businesses through the formation of interactive networks

 To provide a link to the technology transfer programs of other universities and access to federal laboratory research results.

ERDC Community Development

Community Planning

This program was designed to provide technical assistance to community organizations in an attempt to stimulate economic development.

 To collect and desseminate information to individuals and agencies that can use it effectively in economic development.

 To help identify and develop economic opportunities that will provide for the creation of jobs in the regions covered and beyond.

Local Government Initiative

This program was developed to provide intensive and sufficient community development assistance to small communities to enable them to define and meet their community development need.

 To assist participating communities to secure Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) along with other sources of funding to implement their development strategies.

 To assist participating communities to develop and implement long-term projects that will result in an increase in the availability of safe, decent, and affordable housing.

 To ensure that a level of skills is imparted to the participating communities to enable them to continue to economically develop their communities.

For contact information regarding this category of services, please call UAPB at 870-575-8030

TOPPS, Inc. (Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service)—One of UAPB’s Partners that Received National Media Attention for their Mentoring, Tutoring and other Programs for Young People in the Jefferson County Area:

After School Tutoring

TOPPS is one of UAPB’s partners that was featured in a report by Chelsea Clinton for NBC national news on Brian Williams’ Rock Center program. TOPPS has received many accolades for their constructive programs for young people in the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County area. We commend TOPPS Executive Director Annette Dove, her staff and partners for their great work in the heart of the Arkansas Delta. For more information see this contact info:

TOPPS, Inc. (Big Rec.) 1000 Townsend Drive Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 Phone: (870) 850-6011 Fax: (870) 850-7377

TOPPS, Inc. (TOPPS #1) 3512 West 2nd Ave. Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 870.850.7366 3:00-6:00 p.m. M-Th

TOPPS Graphics UAPB Plaza 2003 University Drive, Suite 3 Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601 (870) 535-8677

Targeting Our People’s Priorities With Service (TOPPS) is a non-profit community based organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and their community in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. TOPPS was founded in 2002 by Executive Director, Annette Dove, and is located in Jefferson County, Arkansas, where roughly one out of every four people lives in poverty.

Annette and her staff believe everyone should have the opportunity to become productive, active citizens in their community. TOPPS offers a full range of services for all ages in tutoring, physical fitness, public speaking, cooking, computer training, art, travel, and mentoring. TOPPS volunteers also serve a hot nutritious meal to 280 children daily after school and over 500 children throughout the summer months when they do not have a meal served through the school lunch program.

The staff and board of TOPPS are committed to providing children and their families effective and measurable services needed to break the negative cycles associated with poverty. Our goal is to offer the love, support and services that empower families and change our communities. After School Tutoring & Drop-in Computer Lab

There are 15 computers stations in TOPPS’ Computer Lab. These fully functioning computers have internet access and are available for public use.

During summer months, many youth in the neighborhood walk the streets and find as much trouble as possible to get into. This is why TOPPS opened its doors to allow youth to come and freely work on the computers after they have first worked on some educational material. By doing this, TOPPS is able to ensure that some of their students are staying out of trouble while also keeping their minds academically fresh.

Research reflects that approximately 80 percent of families in the Pine Bluff, AR / Jefferson County community do not have computers.

Throughout the school year, students come to the lab to perform research for their homework assignments, type papers and check their email. College students visit the lab when computers are unavailable or not working at the local college campuses. Adults use the lab to apply for jobs on line, check emails and review bank statements.

Youth Mentoring

TOPPS provides three different mentoring programs for boys and girls in Pine Bluff. TOPPS believes in providing a strong support system to help the youth make wise choices when faced with difficult decisions regarding relationships, drug use, gang involvement, and staying in school.

Changing Steps

“Changing Steps gave the girls the opportunity to know about their community.” - Changing Steps parent

Offering Young Ladies a New Direction and Attitude Changing Steps offers numerous opportunities that teach young ladies to improve academically and socially. This program primarily targets girls who may face the following challenges: • Living in areas with high teen birth rates • Those scoring in the 30th percentile of academics • Have had contact with the Juvenile Justice Center • Have been abused • In foster care • In a single parent home

Classes have been conducted in sewing and crafts. We hosted a Girls Conference for the second year in a row.

Each month, a community service project is held through our AmeriCorps Promise Fellow. The girls participated in the cancer fundraiser “Race for the Cure.” They volunteer at local women’s shelters and nursing homes. During the holiday season, they prepare Thanksgiving baskets and collect toys for needy families for Christmas.

Beginning Steps

“We do things that are educational as well as fun.” – Monica Mitchell, program director

Nurturing Little Girls Towards a Future With Promise Beginning Steps is a program for girls 8-12 years old. Operating since 2008, Beginning Steps organizes two-hour meetings twice a month to talk about age-appropriate issues and to participate in fun activities. Highly involved parents help this program provide a variety of events, such as sleepovers, trips to the movies, volunteer opportunities and out-of-state trips.

Making the Grade!

Girls have to make at least a 2.0 GPA and have a clean discipline record at school in order to participate in the trips and activities.

Marcus C. Harris II: Moving Forward: Touching the Lives of Young Men

Marcus C. Harris II: Moving Forward is a program geared towards young men. The brothering program of Changing Steps, Moving Forward helps young men who live in a household without a father figure. We’re striving to offer mentoring, tutoring and education that will provide guidance, keep young men out of trouble and off the streets.

Moving Forward was designed by Michael Dove and Xavier Stribling who are college students and have served as tutors for the TOPPS program. The mission is: “Not dwelling on the past of our young in the community, but making an effort to touch the lives of the same young men, to not only improve the community, but make a major positive effect on their lives and future.” Our goals are as follows: • Prevent juvenile delinquents from returning to the Juvenile Justice System. • Have a 100% passing rate in school and have a 100% future graduation rate. • Instill dreams in the whole group so they will have goals for which they are aiming. Activities include awards and recognition for moving forward, award trips (professional ball games, amusement parks, etc.), field trips, dream building, learning handy skills, Rap to Rap, picnics, BBQs, fun fundraisers and more!

Reading in the Neighborhood Program

Reading in the Neighborhood is a program that inspires children to develop a love for reading. It began in 2001 and was initially operated out of the home of Annette Dove, executive director of TOPPS, Inc.

The program receives $1,900.00 annually from RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) to help purchase books that are given to all children up to age 17.

On average, TOPPS serves an average of 500 children every year, four times a year. The children receive four to five books to keep for ownership. Reading prizes are given to the participant who reads the most books. The program is open to the public and its purpose is to encourage reading.

The Reading in the Neighborhood event is held on Saturday and is filled with food, socializing, reading, fun and books.

Local daycare centers in Pine Bluff are also provided with books in order to help them incorporate reading into their everyday schedules. The Pine Bluff Housing Authority also benefits through Reading in the Neighborhood. They also receive books four times a year from TOPPS that they provide to youth in their community.

TOPPS Food Service

TOPPS volunteers serve a hot nutritious meal to 280 children daily after school and over 500 children throughout the summer months when they do not have a meal served through the school lunch program. We are rapidly increasing in our numbers and we look forward to servicing more children and families in need as we continue to grow.

TOPPS DREAMS Program to Encourage Higher Education Enrollment

DREAMS was designed to encourage higher education while also focusing on decreasing an already high dropout rate in our county. DREAMS intention is to be an ongoing program with a revolving door of Junior and Senior High School students in the Jefferson County Area.

DREAMS initial enrollment consists of 20 high school Juniors and Seniors that will be paired up with 10 mentors. The foci of these 10 mentors is to (1) ensure the students meet all their requirements to graduate high school and (2) ensure the students meet the requirements needed to enroll into one of their desired college choices.

DREAMS will expand student’s options in terms of college choices, this will happen by “The DREAMS Annual College Tours,” these tours will consist of touring over a dozen colleges in a 3-state region. The tours will give the

DREAMS students the opportunity to meet admission and recruiting counselors, professors and current students. This will give the students the chance to see what campus life is like, meet professors in the fields of their desired major, and most importantly choose a college that gives them the best chance for success.

Another objective of DREAMS is to eliminate some of the other hurdles that low-income students face, such as application fees and finding tuition funding. DREAMS staff will have one individual dedicated strictly to researching applicable scholarships for each student, to eliminate the financial burden that many students face.

TOPPS Job Training Program

Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service, Inc. (TOPPS) is a non-profit organization nationally recognized for having a unique and powerful solution to help disadvantaged young people in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. TOPPS helps young people begin to envision a life that includes higher education and a meaningful, productive adulthood.

We provide tutoring, mentoring, volunteer opportunities, character-building activities, job training, and jobs. TOPPS pledges to support Summer Jobs+ by providing 15 paid and 35 unpaid on-the-job training opportunities to youth ages 16-24 through our job readiness program and TOPPS Summer Camps. TOPPS is committed to providing job readiness life skills and introduction to career paths to 150 teens and young adults in 2012.


TOPPS GRAPHICS is a graphic design shop owned and operated by TOPPS, Inc. The business, opened on July 1st, 2009, is used to provide job training for local at-risk youth. Students 14—18 years old gain valuable work experience designing and printing banners, t-shirts, yard signs, and automotive decals.Students also practice other job-related skills, such as dressing professionally and preparing for interviews.

“Students will work in every capacity from sales, marketing, design and production.”

  • Executive Director, Annette Dove

TOPPS Graphics is open Mon—Thurs, 9 to 5. Call (870) 535-8677 for inquiries or orders.