Three UA Little Rock students are helping to uncover the secret to successful community partnerships between religious and nonprofit organizations in Little Rock.
The Little Rock Congregations Study is an ongoing research project led by Dr. Rebecca Glazier, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs, stemming from research begun in 2012 about the effects of religious organizations on community engagement in Little Rock. This fall, they are surveying nonprofit organizations to learn more about when and how partnerships form.
The students who are working on the research project include Jessica Olson, a double major in biology and political science, Kaylyn “Presley” Hager, a graduate student in the joint Master of Public Administration/Juris Doctor program, and Jasmine Pugh, a mass communication major.
Hager, of Keller, Texas, joined the Little Rock Congregations Study as a graduate assistant after gaining a passion for the project last year. She is one of the nearly 60 student researchers who worked on the Little Rock Congregations Study in 2018, when they studied the community service patterns of religious organizations in Little Rock.
“I worked on the project previously and loved it,” Hager said. “I believe the work we are doing is extremely important, and I really admire Dr. Glazier’s passion for her projects.”
In 2018, student researchers surveyed more than 110 clergy members in the Little Rock area, conducted interviews with 24 clergy members, and wrote 22 stories highlighting partnerships between congregations and community organizations.
This year, Hager is working on the survey that is being distributed to nonprofit leaders to understand how nonprofit organizations facilitate programs with religious organizations. She is hoping to learn more research skills before she completes her master’s degree in public administration in December.
“I finished up my law degree last spring,” Hager said. “Now, I am hoping to make more connections in the field, and learn more about the technical side of survey research.”
Olson of East End, Arkansas, said she wanted to work on the Little Rock Congregations Study because of a love of nonprofits.
“Over the course of my life, I have been involved with many nonprofit organizations such as Girl Scouts,” Olson said. “This led to me having an interest in how organizations function and make decisions.”
Through an independent study class, Olson is researching nonprofit organizations and creating a contact list to encourage survey participation. She hopes this project will give her the research skills she needs for veterinary school.
“I hope to understand more about how nonprofits decide who to work with,” Olson said. “Further, I hope to learn research skills that can translate across many fields since I am applying to vet school. This will require me to know how to do proper research procedures.”
Pugh, a junior from Little Rock, is completing a communications internship with the Little Rock Congregations Study. She is responsible for creating flyers and brochures and managing the website and social media posts.
“I joined this team because I felt like it was a great opportunity to use what I have learned so far and put it to use,” Pugh said. “I also joined this team because I was captured by their service, and I wanted to get involved and help out in some way. I am hoping to learn more about how social media makes an impact in projects like these.”
The Little Rock Congregations Study shares findings and community spotlights on their Facebook page.
“Involving students in research is a major goal of the Little Rock Congregations Study,” Glazier said. “We love for students to get out of the classroom and into the community to have experiences and learn skills they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. We are thrilled to have these dedicated students on our research team this fall and we are excited to be able to share the results of the study with the community once the surveys are in.”