Two UALR students and one alumna played vital roles to secure funding for two famous Little Rock institutions which resulted in vital resources for the Central Arkansas community.
In August, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) received more than $102 million dollars in stimulus money to establish or improve broadband connections at over 450 Arkansas health care and education sites. A graduate student and an alumna from the Department of Rhetoric and Writing were both part of the grant writing team.
Laura Rakes, a technical writing graduate student and a grants writing specialist at UAMS, is proud to have been part of the team that orchestrated and created the proposal. “As an Arkansan, I feel an overwhelming sense of solidarity,” she said. “People all across the state will receive healthcare and educational resources that they might have never received otherwise. It’s nice to know that in my daily grind, I can contribute to such a noble cause.”
Rachel Ott, a grant director at UAMS graduated from UALR in 2001 with a degree in professional and technical writing. “This grant stands out for its sheer immensity in funding received and the fact it has the potential to affect every Arkansan in such positive, forward-thinking ways,” she says.
Ott gives credit to the UAMS core team, government liaisons and lawyers, along with the support offered by the partner organizations to the success of the grant proposal.“It is important to remember that grant writing is far more than just writing,” she said. “Grant writing deals with everything – budgets, justifications, matches, partners, politics, research, graphics, procedure and an exhaustive list of other things that come together to make a representation of your idea that others can understand and wish to support.”
Senior liberal arts student, Lakresha Diaz, put her grant writing expertise to work for the Oakland Fraternal Cemetery in Little Rock. Last month, the cemetery kicked off a cell phone tour for visitors. She came up with the idea for the grant after researching similar programs at other institutions. “The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Park Service offer cell phone tours,” said Diaz. “I wrote the grant as a class project, and the Arkansas Humanities Council funded it.”
Earlier this year, the cemetery received notification that it would be placed on the National Registry of Cemeteries. The Oakland staff held a press conference in September to announce their place on the registry and to kick off the cell phone tour.
“We had a good turnout for the event,” said Diaz. “Fifty-eight unique callers took the tour stops during the event. After the news stories, our unique callers increased to 152.”
Callers are directed by posted signs in the cemetery about which phone numbers to call. The voices on these guided tours may sound familiar. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola lent his voice to the recordings as well as several descents of the people buried at the cemetery.
“There are many famous people buried at Oakland,” Diaz said. “The founders of the Mosaic Templars, John E. Bush and Chester W. Keatts, and Hilda Cornish, the founder of Planned Parenthood of Arkansas for example.”
An estimated 35,000 people have been buried at Oakland since its founding in 1835. Oakland includes confederate cemeteries, two Jewish cemeteries, and a cemetery for African- American slaves who’d obtained their freedom.