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.

Ole Miss McLean Institute's Great Work; & Register for Oct. 17-18 Delta Event

Posted on September 16, 2013 at 01:21 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus would like to commend the innovative work of Albert Nylander, Director of the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, which engages in a broad range of activities in the fight against poverty in Mississippi.

Albert Nylander is a regular participant at Delta Grassroots Caucus activities. He gave an excellent presentation at our recent conference at the Clinton Presidential Center in May, 2013, and he will be with us again at our Delta Grassroots Caucus Conference at the Memphis, Tennessee, Agri-Center International on Oct. 17-18, 2013.

NOTE: Please register for the Oct. 17-18 Delta Grassroots Caucus conference at the Memphis Agri-Center. We have US Sen. Mark Pryor, US Rep. Tom Cotton, Gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson and Mike Ross, Mayor A. C. Wharton of Memphis, and grassroots leaders from all eight Delta states. We have 123 RSVPS already and the number grows daily.

You register by mailing in the registration fees checks to the address below. You do NOT register on the website, which does have detailed information about the conference at

Again, there is NOT a link to register there on the website, but you register by mailing in the registration fees by Sept. 30 to the address listed below in this message. There is no registration form, in order to eliminate unnecessary paperwork.

Registration fee levels are $100 for those who have paid their annual dues and $125 for those who have not paid their annual membership dues. A group discount down to $75 each is offered if you can get together a group of at least five or more from your local area.

Please make out the registration fee check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

After the early registration fees deadline of Sept. 30, late registration fees go up to $150.

Dr. Nylander, Director of the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement and Professor of Sociology at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, came to the University of Mississippi about a year ago from Delta State University, where he served as Dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education, and Chair of the Division of Social Sciences. Dr. Nylander is leading the efforts of the newly expanded McLean Institute and the University on upcoming initiatives related to community engaged research and teaching.

The vast majority of the Delta Caucus partners would agree with the top priorities listed on the McLean Institute’s website: to enhance food security, promote financial literacy and asset building, combat health disparities, advance education, and expand access to education in partnership with faith-based organizations.

Job creation/economic recovery, better nutrition and healthy food choices, and health care for underserved areas are three areas that we consistently hear are major concerns for the Greater Delta Region now.

This is an in-depth message and people likely may want to just read the overview at the beginning based on Albert Nylander’s concise presentation at the Delta conference at the Clinton Library in May, and then possibly read one or two of the other sections that go into detail on particular phases of the McLean Institute’s wide range of activities.

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR ALBERT NYLANDER AND THE MCLEAN INSTITUTE:; phone: 662-721- 2052 or 662-915-2050; website at


In this newsletter we will summarize several phases of the McLean Institute’s constructive work in the Mississippi Delta region:

  1. Summary of Albert Nylander’s May 3, 2013 Presentation at the Clinton Library Delta Conference

  2. Statement of McLean Institute’s Goals

  3. Fighting Health Disparities: Programs to Enhance Health Literacy and Support Job Creation

  4. Promoting Financial Literacy and Asset Building

  5. The Institute’s Work in Enhancing Food Security

  6. The University of Mississippi Food Bank: A Case Study in Exemplary Social Service Work by an Ole Miss student in the Field of Nutrition

  7. Partnership among the McLean Institute, Delta Leadership Institute, Delta Regional Authority, University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the Arkansas State University Delta Center for Economic Development

  8. University of Mississippi College Corps Students in Service and the North Mississippi VISTA Project

1. Summary of Albert Nylander’s Presentation on May 3, 2013 at the Clinton Library Delta Conference

Dr. Nylander emphasized that the goal of the McLean Institute is to create a culture and an institutionalization of community engagement at the University of Mississippi, based on the vision of the university’s chancellor. The Institute is the central coordinating unit to support service learning and community engagement: “Our mission is to fight poverty through education,” he said.

The distinguished sociologist Vaughn Grisham founded the McLean Institute approximately 30 years ago, and one of his familiar statements was that “the road out of the poor house leads through the school house.” The Institute funds faculty activities engaged in constructive efforts throughout the state and in the Delta area, such as funding that supported the School of Pharmacy to take students into the Delta to create mobile clinics, providing flu shots and other health care for lower income communities.

Help for small farmers and community gardens:

The Institute provided funding support to the law school to send out focus groups in the Delta. One issue they found to be of great importance was to address the food insecurity and food deserts that are far too common in the Delta. One outcome was an initiative to work with small farmers to create community gardens and entrepreneurial ventures in which the law school will give free legal advice to small farmers interested in starting up this type of activity. (Those interested in this can contact Dr. Nylander at the contact information listed above.)

Alternative Spring Break Volunteerism Project:

Another example of the McLean Institute’s constructive activities was their Alternative Spring Break, in which 10 students from Ole Miss joined Mississippi State University and went to the northwest Mississippi Delta area to provide volunteer work for nonprofits such as Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture (MEGA).

Focusing on the needs of under-served and limited resource farmers, MEGA helps new farmers, backyard gardeners, as well as seasoned conventional farmers develop the knowledge, skills, and practices they need to develop small-scale, high-yielding, organic farms whether on a quarter lot in their backyard or in a 7 acre field. The two universities collaborated in providing a range of student volunteerism in the heartland Delta counties. The McLean Institute partners with 22 VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in 23 counties in the northwest Mississippi Delta.

UM Food Bank:

Nylander praised the work of an Ole Miss Honors student, Mary Margaret Saulters, who helped create a food bank at the Ole Miss campus. Ms. Saulters participated in the University’s College Corps (these are featured below in subsequent sections of this newsletter) and created a University of Mississippi Food Bank in which students can provide their student ID and receive whatever food they need.

Dr. Nylander’s comment about finding hunger in unexpected settings, such as the university, resonates with what the Delta Caucus partners are finding across the region; indeed, many people were surprised to know that some students at a major university did not have sufficient food.

We are finding that due to the economy having been so weak during the recession and still very sluggish, there is hunger/poverty in places we had not previously expected to find them–such as university campuses and the suburban areas of our region, many of which are now seeing increased instances of poverty.

Childhood Development:

Another major area of the McLean Institute’s work is in early childhood. The Institute finished a pilot project in day care centers this spring and is expanding into other lower income areas in Mississippi.

Another successful pilot project to help children was the Horizons project this summer, which is an intensive summer learning program for children from the first to the ninth grade. Most of the focus was on reading, math and science. There were also swimming lessons that provided exercise, confidence-building, and of course, is also beneficial for safety due to the higher levels of drowning in the Delta region.


The problem of illiteracy is widespread in our region and has a negative impact of virtually every other problem in the region, from finding and keeping a good job to following medical instructions correctly. In north Panola County the Institute collaborated with the Mississippi Humanities Council to help instill a culture of reading for 20 students and their families.

The families of all the students were included in the project and the Institute bought books for all of the students. Nylander said the progress in learning led to enthusiasm for improving reading skills for the children as well as their families. (The Clinton Foundation also places great emphasis on early childhood development in nutrition and education and it’s encouraging to see this vital area receiving expanded attention across the region.)

1 to 1 Fund for Higher Education Savings Accounts:

Ole Miss and Delta State University are partnering with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED, a national nonprofit that works on developing assets) in the 1 to 1 Fund project to create savings accounts to help lower income children save for higher education costs.

Nylander said he took this project to the VISTA members and asked if they could set a goal of raising $10,000, and they replied that they could raise much more than that! Delta State and Ole Miss are collaborating to raise significant funds for low-income children’s educational future in the Delta.

The University of Mississippi also hired Rick Duke as its first Director of Economic Development at “Insight Park”, which has a research facility and an incubator in which entrepreneurs can start businesses at a very low cost. The Innovation Hub is a 62,000 square foot, state-of-the-art building that currently serves as the gateway for Insight Park. The building offers custom space and flexible leasing agreements to suit any company. Beyond the high-end technology and the beautiful architecture and interiors, you will find an enterprising environment where you can build and execute your business dream. Rick’s email is and his phone number is 601-466-8850 (

2. Statement of McLean Institute’s Goals:

Dr. Nylander succeeds the accomplished sociologist Vaughn Grisham, who for more than 30 years led the McLean Institute for Community Development. The institute was the brainchild of Dr. Grisham and publisher and patron George McLean, whose mission was to raise the quality of life for all Mississippians. The institute that bears his name has cultivated leaders, researched problems, and implemented solutions for communities around Mississippi and the nation.

Founding Director Vaughn Grisham has retired from his faculty position at the University of Mississippi, but his legacy and important work will continue through the institute, which is being greatly expanded in the coming years.

The expanded McLean Institute is known as “The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement,” and it will rally the entire university to impact the state of Mississippi. Among its goals will be the following:

· Support Mississippi towns in the development and implementation of community improvement projects;

· Pursue and deploy external resources (grants, private dollars, etc.) to support community engagement;

· Establish mutually beneficial partnerships with organizations fighting poverty in Mississippi;

· Reward and support faculty who develop service-learning courses;

· Increase opportunities for faculty and graduate students to pursue community-based research;

The University of Mississippi is the flagship institution of Mississippi, and Ole Miss is replete with educational resources and expertise. In the coming years, the McLean Institute’s goal will always be the same: to fight poverty throughout Mississippi.

The McLean Institute has adopted several organizational priorities as part of its mission to help the University of Mississippi fight poverty through education:

· Advance education in Mississippi

· Promote financial literacy and asset building

· Enhance food security

· Combat health disparities

· Expand access to education in partnership with faith-based organizations

The McLean Institute also works with National Service programs like AmeriCorps*VISTA and College Corps to connect university resources to community organizations.

3. Fighting Health Disparities: Programs to Enhance Health Literacy and Support Job Creation to Build Healthier Communities

The Delta Caucus partners welcome one theme that recurs in the McLean Institute’s emphasis on preventive health care. One serious flaw in our region’s health care is the emphasis to reactive health care after conditions have already become severe, rather than preventing the problems from developing in the first place. Health care has a tremendous impact on economic progress in our region.

In its summary regarding the fight against health disparities, the McLean Institute begins by citing the fact that one in five people in Mississippi lack health insurance (source is Kaiser Family Foundation, Mississippi: Health Insurance Status, accessed Jan. 31, 2013). Mississippians are similar to most of the rest of the region in suffering from a high burden of disease, which is worsened by limited access to primary and preventive health care and low rates of health literacy.

The Institute states that “Without regular access to medical care, a simple disease can escalate in severity, which can result in more costly treatment and missed days of school and work. Low health literacy results in confusion about how to read medicine labels, as well as how to make lifestyle changes to improve diet and manage chronic disease.”

Here are some key facts about health problems in Mississippi–and data from the heartland Delta areas are even worse than the statewide figures:

68.9% of adults in Mississippi are obese, and that figure rises to 73.9% among African American adults. 44.4% of children are obese, as compared with that national average of 31.6%. Only 40% of adults reported moderate or vigorous levels of physical activity, and 58% of high school students do not meet the recommended physical activity level. The number of deaths in Mississippi due to heart disease is dramatically higher than the national average. 12.4% of Mississippians have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the diabetes death rate for women and African Americans is alarmingly above the national average. Increased health literacy can bridge patient access to health care:

In 2010, one in five Mississippians reported not having seen a doctor in the previous year because of cost. Preventive health care can avoid the escalation of health problems that become vastly more damaging and expensive if they are not caught at an early age. As the Institute emphasizes, health literacy offers a low-cost solution to improved health outcomes. Patient self-management can be an effective tool for managing chronic maladies like hypertension and diabetes.

Shortage of health care professionals in the region:

Over half of the people of Mississippi (54.3%) live in a designated Primary Care Health Professional Shortage area.

Clearly there is a serious need to increase the number of nurses and community health workers in these underserved areas. When nurses and community health workers complete their training and get experience in local communities, they can help Mississippians who lack access to health professionals and thereby reduce preventable use of emergency departments.

4. Promoting Financial Literacy and Asset Building

Here are some key facts regarding poverty in Mississippi, based on data from the McLean Institute, the National Center for Children in Poverty, “Mississippi Family Economic Security Profile,” pp. 1, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc., “Financial Literacy Survey Exposes Significant Gaps in Grasp of Personal Finance Skills, April, 2012,, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, June 26, 2012, “Studies Show Earned Income Tax Credit Encourages Work and Success in School and Reduces Poverty,” (NOTE: THIS IS NOT A LINK–YOU WILL NEED TO TYPE IN THE ADDRESS):

· In 2011 22.6% of the people of Mississippi live in poverty, and the median household income was the lowest in the nation at $36,919.

· One in three children in Mississippi lives below the Federal Poverty Level.

· The working poor–47% of low-income parents in Mississippi work full-time throughout the year, and an additional 28% of low-income parents work either part-time or part of the year. These working families are ideal candidates for financial literacy and participation in savings programs because they have an income.

· In 2012, 56% of adults did not have a budget, 39% had credit card debt and 33% did not consistently pay their bills on time. Financial literacy offers tools to manage income, budgets and debt in order to attain long-term financial stability.

· Students with savings accounts are SIX TIMES MORE LIKELY TO GO TO COLLEGE. With tuition rates so high, only 10% of low-income students get college degrees by their mid-twenties. Developing matched savings accounts for these students creates an asset to offset the cost of higher education.

· Use of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (DITC) reduces poverty and increases success in school. The EITC offsets federal payroll and income taxes for low-wage workers, which is basically a wage supplement. Moreover, research indicates that additional family income from the EITC improves educational success for children.

Projects for Promoting Child Savings for College and Financial Literacy:

The 1 to 1 Fund for promoting child savings: Delta State University has piloted a promising model to promote savings. The McLean Institute is strategically situated to recruit student leaders and build advocacy and fundraising campaigns to promote financial literacy education for adults and students in Mississippi high schools.

Ole Miss students will also work with the nonprofit Moneythink, which offers financial literacy classes in Oxford, Lafayette County and North Panola high schools. The Institute researches financial literacy curricula and offers support to organizations that seek to bring financial literacy to their communities.

5. McLean Institute Summary of Goals in Enhancing Nutrition

Programs to promote healthy diets, build community, and create jobs

The Challenge

The alluvial topsoil of the Mississippi Delta is some of the most fertile in the world, but this rich farmland does not always translate into healthy food choices for Delta residents. Less than 1% of cropland acreage in Mississippi is used to harvest fruits and vegetables.1 In the Delta, retailers that sell affordable produce are scarce.

This lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, combined with transportation barriers, means that many families rely on convenience stores and fast food restaurants to feed their families. Rates of fruit and vegetable consumption among adults are markedly lower in Mississippi than around the nation.2

A diet that lacks nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables can lead to higher rates of obesity, which is prevalent across Mississippi in general and the Delta in particular. Obesity tends to appear in conjunction with food insecurity, and Mississippi faces the highest rate of food insecurity in the nation, at 17.4%.3

The rate of food insecurity climbs to nearly 30% in the Delta.4 Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of hunger and food insecurity. In 2010, 27% of children in Mississippi lived in households that were food insecure at some point during the year.5 Both persistent hunger and a nutrient-poor diet can adversely impact a child’s chances at success.

Key Findings

The health consequences of a poor diet ratchet up health care costs. Mississippi has the highest rate of low birth weight babies.6 (12.1%) and the highest rate of preterm births7 (17.6%) in the country, which are two factors that drive health care costs.

Both low birth weight and preterm delivery are associated with the mother’s nutritional intake. Increasing a family’s food security, and by extension enriching the diet of a pregnant mother, can reduce health care costs associated with adverse birth outcomes.

Hunger impacts educational outcomes for vulnerable children. Food insecurity can hinder a child’s cognitive development, which results in a persistent deficit.8 Children who experience hunger are more likely to have trouble concentrating at school and poorly on tests. Low levels of educational achievement will also impact job opportunities and future earnings potential.

Growing fruits and vegetables, and encouraging small business development to process meat and fish, could represent important job creation opportunities for Delta communities. Community, church and school gardens have gained popularity in recent years. This is a promising hands-on learning tool for enhancing nutrition, getting exercise, and building community. Many low-income families in the Delta are also incredibly resourceful around earning income, and there may be untapped entrepreneurial opportunities to generate additional family income and for local job creation.

Proposed Projects:

Collaborate with the Civil Legal and Transactional Clinics in their efforts to explore entrepreneurial avenues for food production in the Delta. The Law School is interested in making a long-term commitment to improving food security and supporting job creation in the Delta, and is committed to a process that elicits community input. Working in collaboration with these clinics, the McLean Institute can support these community engagement efforts.

Research food security issues and related initiatives that raise the quality of life for Mississippians. The McLean Institute can collaborate with interested schools and departments to engage in community-based research around the intersection of food security with health, education and job creation. These data can inform policy decisions that promote better nutrition, good health and new opportunities for all Mississippians.


1 Kaiser Family Foundation, Mississippi: Nutrition (accessed February 1, 2013),

2 Id.

3 John Cook and Karen Jeng, Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on our Nation, Feeding America (accessed February 1, 2013), pg. 8,

4 Feeding America, Map the Meal 2012: Mississippi Food Insecurity by Congressional District in 2010, (accessed February 1, 2013),

5 Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center: Mississippi Economic Well-Being, (accessed February 1, 2013), 4.

6 Kaiser Family Foundation, Births of Low Birthweight as a Percent of all Births, 2010 (accessed February 4, 2013),

7 Kaiser Family Foundation, Preterm Births as a Percent of all Births, 2010 (accessed February 4, 2013),

8 Cook and Jeng, Child Food Insecurity, pp. 23.

6. The UM Food Bank: A Case Study in Exemplary Social Service Work in the Field of Nutrition

Mary Margaret Saulters, an Ole Miss honors student from Tchula in the heart of the Delta, earns national, regional recognition for volunteer excellence

From the Universithy of Mississippi Communications department–April 22, 2013 By Lindsey Abernathy

OXFORD, Miss. - Growing up, Mary Margaret Saulters’ home in the rural Delta town of Tchula was 20 miles from the nearest grocery store. It was in this literal “food desert” - as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - that her interest in food security and social inequality first took root.

“My family was really lucky because we could afford to grow organic vegetables and drive the 30 minutes to the grocery store,” said Saulters, a senior at the University of Mississippi. “But my neighbors couldn’t. They relied on convenience stores, if that, for food. I grew up witnessing the disparity and inequality and the poor health that came from it, but I didn’t know what to do.”

The biology and anthropology major has spent the last two years doing something about it. Through her work with the UM College Corps, Saulters has identified and worked to remedy regional social and food inequalities, an effort that has been so successful it earned her the 2013 Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence, or GIVE, award for Outstanding College Student and a 2013 Newman Civic Fellow accolade from Campus Compact, a designation reserved for the next generation of civic leaders.

“Mary Margaret has become an important campus and community leader, someone who has thoughtfully applied her skills and interests to positively impact the lives of low-income and homeless people in Mississippi,” said Stephen Monroe , College Corps director and assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “We ask all College Corps members to put service before self, and Mary Margaret exemplifies this ideal.”

Saulters began working with the highly selective College Corps, a community-based AmeriCorps program, in 2011. Since then, she has partnered with fellow student Meghan Litton to run a social entrepreneurship venture Grace(full) Totes, benefiting Interfaith Compassion Ministry, one of a handful of local organizations working with the homeless.

The business, housed in the university’s new Insight Park incubator, won the “Most Sustainable Business Plan” in the School of Business Administration’s annual Gillespie Business Plan competition. In fall 2011, Saulters organized “Plates to End Poverty,” a fundraiser that helped buy a new computer for ICM.

Most recently, Saulters helped spearhead the creation of an on-campus food bank when she realized that the issue of food security, which she has been studying for her Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College thesis, was much closer than she thought.

“We had some faculty members come speak to College Corps and say, ‘We’ve had students coming to us who can’t afford to eat on campus,’” Saulters said. “I’m looking at these issues in other parts of Mississippi, but this is here. That just really stuck with me.”

The result was the UM Food Bank, which opened in November after months of careful planning by students, faculty and staff. Saulters, who will graduate in May, has logged more than 500 official hours with College Corps - only 300 are required per academic year. In February, she presented a version of her honors thesis, directed by UM associate professor of sociology John Green, at the Alabama-Mississippi Sociological Association’s annual conference and won first place for best undergraduate submission. Saulters plans to attend graduate school to study rural sociology next fall.

“Academically, we are always searching for the Mary Margarets of the world,” said Albert Nylander, director of the UM McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement. “Her intelligence and commitment to social justice will continue upon her UM graduation as she prepares for graduate school, focusing on important food security issues and continuing to address important societal needs. Mary Margaret is so deserving of these awards.”

Saulters will accept the GIVE award April 22 in Jackson. The award honors outstanding volunteer leaders who have positively impacted Mississippi and is presented by Volunteer Mississippi in coordination with the Office of the Governor and first lady Deborah Bryant. Saulters is among 181 students from 36 states to be named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, which recognizes students studying social causes and creating lasting change. The Newman Civic Fellow designation is made possible support from the KPMG Foundation.

7. Partnership Among the McLean Institute, Delta Leadership Institute, Delta Regional Authority, University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the Arkansas State University Delta Center for Economic Development:

The Delta Regional Authority has announced a partnership between the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi, the Arkansas State University Delta Center for Economic Development, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe to host the Delta Leadership Institute and support leadership education in the Delta region.

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that serves 252 counties and parishes in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

The Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) consists of an Executive Academy, which provides a yearlong leadership development program for individuals from across the eight state region desiring to prepare themselves to collaborate regionally and lead change, and the Delta Leadership Network, a growing coalition of Executive Academy alumni. The McLean Institute will host sessions throughout the Delta region, beginning with a session in Oxford this November.

The Executive Academy works to empower local leaders to confront the challenges they identify in their home communities. “We are looking forward to the implementation of sustainable pathways for Delta leaders to serve as change agents for the Delta region. The opportunity to lead the Delta Leadership Institute into the future provides us with the challenge to learn from and partner with communities throughout our great Delta region,” said Dr. Albert Nylander, Director of the McLean Institute.

The Delta Leadership Institute places a strong emphasis on helping leaders understand the policy issues important to the region and encouraging them to be advocates for their home communities. “Leaders from across the Delta can be the best ambassadors for creating change in their home communities because of their on-the-ground perspective on issues like schools and job creation.”

Participants in the Executive Academy will learn how challenges in their communities connect across the region, and receive the tools they need to communicate that perspective with policymakers,” said Laura Martin, program coordinator for the McLean Institute. The 50 members of the Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy will travel to Washington, DC, in June 2014 to meet with members of their congressional delegation.

The Delta Regional Authority is currently accepting applications for the ninth class of the Executive Academy, who will join more than three hundred past members of the DLI as ambassadors for small businesses, public health, education, green technology, infrastructure, and other issues facing the Delta region.

“These leaders will play a key role in supporting economic and community development throughout the Delta region. The DLI is an exciting opportunity for the University and the McLean Institute to engage with these communities,” said Ryan Parsons, an AmeriCorps VISTA member who works at the McLean Institute.

The University of Mississippi is joining with Arkansas State University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe to execute the Delta Leadership Institute. These three schools will work together in an innovative collaboration designed to leverage the unique expertise of each of these institutions.

Dr. Nylander will serve as the DLI co-coordinator along with Alan McVey of ASU and Dr. John Sutherlin of UL-M. The McLean Institute will also consult with its partners at Delta State University, Arkansas Baptist College, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and the University of Central Arkansas.

For more information contact the Delta Regional Authority or the McLean Institute.

8. University of Mississippi College Corps Students in Service:

Started in 2010 by Hildreth Davis, AmeriCorps VISTA in the College of Liberal Arts, College Corps is a community-based AmeriCorps program that strives to connect its members to volunteer opportunities in the Oxford/Lafayette Community.

All members are placed in sites where they vow to offer consistent, purposeful service throughout a year-long term. Members strive to serve 300 hours, and if successful, are awarded with a minimum-time AmeriCorps Segal Education Award.

Currently, College Corps has 60 corps members serving across 12 sites throughout Oxford, MS. These sites include Oxford Public Schools, More than a Meal, Doors of Hope, Interfaith Compassion Ministries, Leap Frog, and other organizations fighting poverty around Oxford and Lafayette.

The North Mississippi VISTA Project:

The North Mississippi VISTA Project works to build sustainable systems that connect the University of Mississippi and its resources to low-income communities throughout a 23-county area. Whenever possible, we develop projects in communities with under-performing schools and/or schools eligible for Title I School Improvement Grants. Our project builds capacity by developing new, meaningful, and sustainable connections between our university, with its abundant resources, and the schools, education agencies, and learning organizations already working to move the people of our region toward academic success and higher education.

The North Mississippi VISTA project (VISTA members in parentheses) has a wide range of partnerships across Mississippi, including:

  • North Panola School District, Sardis, MS (Christine Delea)

  • Crenshaw Elementary School, Crenshaw, MS (CaMesha Lenard)

  • Excel Commons, Okolona, MS (Kelvin Stanfield)

  • Desoto County Youth Center, Hernando, MS (Gabe Lee)

  • United Way of Oxford-Lafayette, Oxford, MS (Melissa Leach)

  • Girl Scouts of America (Linda Zalesky, Columbus; Amy Rausch, Corinth)

  • Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (Stacey Sanford)

  • HealthWorks! Tupelo (Caleb Thomason)

  • EDUCATE, Como, MS (Sandra Johnson)

  • Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Lambert, MS (Arnetta Clark)

  • Rust College Community Development Corporation, Holly Springs, MS (Gladyes Barber)

  • Ole Miss Luckyday Academic Success Program, Oxford, MS (Matthew Monroe)

  • Ole Miss- McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement (Ryan Parsons)

  • Ole Miss School of Education (Lauryn Duvalle)

  • University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS (Justin Glover)

  • University of Mississippi School of Engineering, Oxford, MS (Sean Ray)

  • Office of the Provost, University of Mississippi (Kathy Trabue)

  • University Museum, Ole Miss (TBD in November)

  • University of Mississippi- Ford Center for the Performing Arts (TBD in November)

Albert Nylander, Ph.D., Director, McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, Professor of Sociology, 311 Howry, University, MS 38677, (662) 915-2052