David Johnson, vice president of community investment for Arkansas Community Foundation, made a presentation on Aspire Arkansas to members of the Helena Health Foundation at their luncheon Tuesday.

 

David Johnson, vice president of community investment for Arkansas Community Foundation, made a presentation on Aspire Arkansas to members of the Helena Health Foundation at their luncheon Tuesday.
Johnson stated that the Arkansas Community Foundation believes that better information leads to better solutions.
That’s why ARCF has teamed with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to produce Aspire Arkansas.  Johnson explained that the presented report outlines county-by-county data on indicators of community well-being – from economic opportunity, to education, to health care and community engagement.
“Our goal in producing Aspire Arkansas is to provide a resource that will enable Arkansas to take a look at how each county is faring on these important quality of life issues, and, more importantly, to begin taking action to address these needs,” said Johnson.
Aspirations for Arkansas’s communities were outlined in the data including education, workforce, families, health, economics, security, and participation. Johnson explained that Aspire Arkansas was developed as a tool to help citizens work together to achieve those goals to provide a snapshot of “where we currently stand so that, together, we can chart a course toward the future.”  “Our goal,” Johnson continued, “is to aid all community leaders in identifying local challenges and making more informed decisions about key issues. We strove to identify information that is actionable - that there seems to be some kind of action the citizens can take to create a change in the issue.”
Johnson explained that respected institutions using a scientific data collection process had prepared the information.
“We chose to include only data that provide information for each of Arkansas’s 75 counties,” reported Johnson.
“All the information you see today comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Education, Arkansas sentencing Commission and other government offices,” Johnson said.  “It is our hope that organizing isolated statistics and bits of information into a comprehensive report will make trends, needs, and challenges more readily recognizable.”  Johnson stated that the logic model components could be reviewed by breaking them down by input, activities, outputs, outcomes, and the initial impact that would follow after going forward with the specific grants or actions.
“This provides the time to really think about which direction we want this information to take us,” he said.  “This year marks the Arkansas Community Foundation’s 35th anniversary, and we believe Aspire Arkansas is a giant step forward in our ability to effectively engage people, connect resources and inspire solutions.  This report is our gift to Arkansas, a way to celebrate where we have been, where we are now, and where we need to go in the next 35 years.”