AHDC’s Past and Present Youth and Adult Entrepreneurship Training Programs

  • Youth Entrepreneurship Program.  Using anecdotal evidence and research conducted by then named Arkansas Department of Education, Vocational and Technical Education Division; AHDC developed its Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP).  The YEP was designed to address the dwindling opportunities for part-time and summer employment for youth and young adults in rural communities.  The YEP presented career planning information to a target group in selected communities across the state involved them in small business training, and provided loans to start small businesses.  The program was implemented both in schools and through community based organizations.  An annual Youth Entrepreneurship Conference was also held to inspire youth to consider entrepreneurship as a career alternative and give them the opportunity to meet other youth entrepreneurship leaders.
  • The American Dream:  AHDC first implemented The American Dream, a business development program for low-income people, in Lee County, Arkansas in 1991.  The American Dream program has been successful in one of the most remote and poverty-stricken areas of the nation.  By offering low-income people an opportunity to take control of their own destiny, the model effectively bridged the gap between traditional training and employment placement programs.  It assisted low-income people in matching individual skills and abilities to marketable products and provided them with the financial resources to start businesses.  The impact has been much greater than the creation of new businesses by people who previously believed that few job opportunities existed for them.  In east Arkansas, twenty-five people successfully lifted themselves out of the welfare trap and hold title to their own futures.  They stand as beacons and role models for their families and their communities.
  • Central Arkansas Entrepreneurship Training Program:  This program allowed AHDC to encourage business development opportunities, improve the quality of the economic and social environment, and provide for self-sufficiency among low-income people who resided in the Pulaski County Empowerment Community.  Program participants included displaced workers, people with developmental disabilities, homeless people, Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC) recipients, and public housing residents.  AHDC and its program partners provided a 36-month entrepreneurship training program to the participants of the project.  Approximately 100 persons participated in the program and 23 new jobs were created.
  • Economic Literacy and Pre-Business Program:  AHDC entered into a contractual agreement with the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) in October 2002 to provide economic literacy and pre-business development training.  AHDC is the provider of the training and the services were delivered within the service areas of CADC.  Approximately 540 persons received assistance through this agreement.  This project was completed in September 2003.
  • Arkansas Minority Business Development Roundtable (AMBDR):  AHDC performed administrative functions for this group for a two-year period.  The AMBDR received a two-year grant from the U. S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency.  AHDC provided fiscal and programmatic functions to ensure that expended funds were properly documented and submitted all required reports.
  • “Participating In The Progress”:  Do You Have the Capability to Grow.  With seed funding from the AMBDR and financial support from other public and private organizations, AHDC coordinated a state-wide conference targeting minority business owners with the above-captioned title.
  •  More than 200 people participated in the conference, which was held at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock.  Private sector and university leaders from across the state were involved in this endeavor and Arkansas’s highest political leadership took an active role in the project.  The two-day conference addressed new and developing industries, advantages of business ownership, minority and non-minority partnerships, contracts and procurement.  Of course, a conference of this nature would be incomplete without a discussion of funding and capital.  Institutions of this nature were involved.  One of the most important outcomes of this activity, however, was the receipt of several sizeable contracts by minority businesses in attendance.    
  • USDA Entrepreneurial Training program:  AHDC was awarded a Rural Business Enterprise Grant in May 2003 in the amount of $75,000.  These funds have been used to provide technical assistance and entrepreneurial training within eight rural counties of Arkansas.  This project was completed in 2005 and these funds assisted approximately 500 rural residents.  The project also included several lender forums. Participants in the forums included traditional and non-traditional lenders as well as technical assistance providers.  Outcomes of the grant funds were also covered in Tomorrows Entrepreneur, a newsletter that encourages and supports entrepreneurship in rural areas as well as in the AHDC annual report.
  • USDA ENTREPRENEURAL TRAINING PROGRAM:  AHDC was awarded a Rural Business Enterprise Grant in May 2005 in the amount of $43,699.00.  These funds have been used to provide technical assistance and entrepreneurial training within four rural counties in Arkansas.  This project is complete.  These dollars have assisted approximately 350 rural residents.  AHDC conducted two lenders forums and two financial literacy forums for residents.  Participants in the forums have included traditional and non-traditional lenders as well as technical assistance providers.  The agency has also developed and distributed two issues of Tomorrows Entrepreneur, a newsletter that encourages and supports small business development in rural communities.  Activities resulting from the grant are also covered in the AHDC annual report.
  • USDA ENTREPRENEURAL TRAINING PROGRAM:  AHDC was awarded a Rural Business Enterprise Grants in 2008 and 2014 in the amount of $75,000.00 and $80,000.00.  Grant funds were used to provide technical assistance and entrepreneurial training in several rural counties in Arkansas.  The projects are complete.  Funding assisted approximately 800 rural residents.  AHDC has conducted five rural business development conferences, published several issues of Tomorrows Entrepreneur and conference reports, held two lenders forums and four financial literacy forums.  Activities resulting from the grants are covered in the AHDC annual reports which were printed and distributed.
  • USDA RUAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMNT FORUMS:  AHDC was awarded a Rural Business Development Grant in 2016 in the amount of $85,000.00.  Grant funds were used to host three Business Development Forums.  Forums were held in Blytheville, El Dorado and Helena West Helena Arkansas.  Approximately 450 rural residents participated in the forums.  State and Federal Agencies as well as private lending institutions participated in panel discussions and provided technical assistance on how to obtain the resources each has for small business development.

Currently funded youth entrepreneurship training programs:

Project Y.I.E.L.D., which means Youth Innovation, Engagement, Learning and Development, is the name of the youth program that was began during the summer of 2019.  It is supported by the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (ADWS) through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  The program includes a summer youth employment component and an after-school component that operates during school term.  The purpose of both components is to provide work-based learning opportunities that allows 16-19 years old students to be paid while they learn.  It meets two of the goals of the TANF program, which are:

  1. Provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own home or the home of relatives; and,
  2. Reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage.

Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC) is the administrative entity and partners include:

Old St. Paul M.B. Church in West Memphis

New St. Hurricane Baptist Church in Pine Bluff

Inclusion Jobs, Inc. in North Little Rock

Life Skills for Youth in Little Rock

Arkansas Employment Career Center in Little Rock

City of Forrest City

HAD2Graduate in North Little Rock

Strive, Inc. in Marianna