Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub Gets $800K Grant

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The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock announced Friday that Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City, California, has awarded it an $800,000 grant to address social injustices and racial inequities affecting communities throughout the state. 

The Hub was one of 20 organizations in the country to receive one of Gilead’s Racial Equity Community Impact grants that total $10 million.

“We are appreciative of Gilead for recognizing the challenges facing Black, LatinX, Marshallese, rural and other underserved communities throughout Arkansas,” Hub Executive Director Chris Jones said in a news release. “Gilead’s strategic partnership with the Innovation Hub leverages an innovative, multilingual and multigenerational approach to address long-standing issues of inequity and social injustice amongst Arkansas’s diverse populations.”

The grant will support these existing Hub programs:

  • The Arkansas Digital Literacy program that is designed to help parents, students  and teachers use digital resources comfortably, effectively and fully. It is accessible in multiple languages via a variety of means — telephone hotline, text, website and in-person and virtual training.

  • The Skills to Launch educational experience that provides technical and soft skills to people ages 18-24 with a combination of classroom instruction and independent study. At launch, three focuses were offered: roofing, construction and welding. In 2021, focuses including trade, electronics, plumbing, drones, gaming, cybersecurity and more will be added.

  • Virtual field trips that allow Arkansas students to explore a variety of creative, technological and entrepreneurial subjects through hands-on project kits and live interaction with the Hub’s STEAM educators. The curriculum is tied to state standards and designed to be informative and easy for teachers to deploy.

  • The Innovation Challenge program that offers a STEAM-based invention challenge as an alternative to science fairs. Students are asked to create an invention that solves a real-world problem with commonly found materials and demonstrates the use of a new skill. Hub educators provide the framework and details for the challenge and consultation for teachers.