The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded the University of Arkansas an additional $3.3 million to the Arkansas PROMISE project that pays for paid work experiences for Arkansas teens with disabilities and economic challenges.
PROMISE is an acronym for “Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income.” In September 2013, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the initial five-year grant of $32.4 million to the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Education to fund the Arkansas PROMISE project. The award is believed to be the largest research grant received in UA history.
The goal of the PROMISE project is to improve the career and education outcomes of low-income teenagers with disabilities. Last summer, 278 Arkansas youth worked a total of 44,817 hours, Arkansas PROMISE reported. A total of 324 employers participated at 202 unique worksites in 55 cities and 25 counties.
“We see this as a confirmation that the Arkansas PROMISE project is doing exactly what it was designed to do,” said Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.” In the first year of the project, the PROMISE staff and the staff of our partners took the plan from paper to reality with amazing efficiency, cooperation and success.”
Brent Thomas Williams, an associate professor who is the principal investigator of the grant project, said the new funding will help expand the success of PROMISE.
“We were able to see remarkable success in the first summer of paid work experiences for these teens, several of whom were asked to continue working for their employers during the school year,” Williams said. “This new funding will give both the teens and the employers who partner with PROMISE additional services and training for an even better experience in the summers to come.”