The preliminary results of the Little Rock Congregations Study, led by UA Little Rock professor Rebecca Glazier, shed some light on when and how religious institutions in the capital city form partnerships with non-profits and one another, as well as what kind of services they provide.
“Sometimes the University can feel pretty distant from the rest of the city,” said Glazier. “The Little Rock Congregations Study gets students out of the classroom and into the community to do research that really matters. We are working hard to share findings that clergy members, congregants, and the broader Little Rock community will find valuable.”
Food banks and marriage or relationship counseling are the most common services, with 47 and 61 percent of Little Rock congregations providing them, respectively. The study found that partnerships happen regularly, and that 53 percent of congregations with a food bank have a partnership, as do 60 percent of congregations that provide medical screenings or services.
In addition, the study found that a desire to connect with the larger community, rather than a need for resources, is the most common reason that congregations form partnerships with outside groups.
A total of 59 UA Little Rock students at the graduate and undergraduate level participated in the study as researchers, three of whom received signature experience awards for their association with the project.
One of the students, senior Jordan Wallis, received a grant for the purpose of examining the services that Little Rock congregations provide to veterans.
“I am excited to be able to do empirical, community-based research that will further my education and allow me to do a little bit to help fellow veterans in need,” said Wallis.
Senior Paige Topping received a grant to study how the researchers can better share their results.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to not only research issues that are important to my community, but to also connect on a local level and create long-lasting relationships and positive impacts,” said Topping.
Sophomore Madison Rogers also received an honorary award to look at longitudinal data from the study and track community engagement.
The researchers are still analyzing the data, and will be posting new findings on the study’s Facebook page and project website. They will also be following up in the spring with surveys of non-profits in the city in order to understand what the other end of the partnership is like, and will make use of a grant from the Arkansas Community Foundation to host an event to share the results with the clergy and begin preparations for a future 2020 study.