ucp - mushs signing

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (December 14, 2023) – The Academies of Central Arkansas announced today the establishment of the United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas Academy of Leadership and Social Services at Mills University Studies High School. This partnership between United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas (UCP)Mills University Studies High School, and the Pulaski County Special School District is the core foundation of the Academies model of teaching and learning being implemented in public high schools throughout Pulaski County, better known as the Academies of Central Arkansas.

Students in the United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas Academy of Leadership and Social Services will benefit from several enhanced, hands-on learning opportunities throughout their four years at Mills University Studies High School. Students in freshman seminar will have authentic opportunities for career exploration that include participation in freshman seminar, where they will hear from guest speakers from local business and industry partners, and participation in the annual career exposure event, where UCP and several other central Arkansas businesses, participate in this event for all ninth graders geared towards informative, engaging career exploration.

Beginning this school year, students will participate in industry field trips, job shadowing, career mentoring, mock interviewing, and potential internship or externship opportunities because of this partnership with UCP. Nearing graduation from the United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas Academy of Leadership and Social Services, scholars will have opportunities to earn concurrent credit and industry-recognized credentials and will create a capstone project that has been co-developed by the team at UCP and the faculty at Mills University Studies High School during their senior year.

United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas President and CEO, Paula Rader said, “As one of the largest disability service organizations in Arkansas, we are proud to be leading the charge to educate and bring awareness at the high school level about the opportunities for employment within the disability community. We’re very proud to establish the United Cerebral Palsy Academy of Social Services and Leadership within the Pulaski County Special School District and look forward to what the future holds for this partnership.”

The Academies of Central Arkansas is a joint initiative of the four public school districts across Pulaski County and the regional business community. In 2019, the Jacksonville North Pulaski, Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Pulaski County Special School Districts, together with the five Pulaski County chambers of commerce and business and civic leaders, began implementing high school academies within all public high schools in the county, serving all students.

“United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas serves a far-reaching audience of adults and children across the state,” said Little Rock Regional Chamber CEO and President Jay Chesshir. “Their partner agreement with Mills University Studies High School Faculty to highlight incredibly diverse career possibilities is really exciting as they help students explore future opportunities in the nonprofit sector of our economy.”

Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Charles McNulty said, "Our Academies are designed to provide our students with college and career readiness skills and experiences to pursue their dreams. Additionally, our Academies are designed to increase the opportunity for all our community members to dream of a life well-lived. Entering partnerships with organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas is exactly what our Academies are all about in central Arkansas!"

Implementation of the Academies of Central Arkansas will take several years to fully build out. Once completed, this educational approach will help transform high schools for all students within the four school districts. The Little Rock Regional Chamber is still actively recruiting business partners for all Academy high schools. Businesses interested in getting more information can reach out to the chamber directly or visit www.academiesofcentralarkansas.org.

About Academies of Central Arkansas
The Academies of Central Arkansas is an initiative of the Little Rock Regional Chamber and utilizes the Academies model of teaching and learning. It is being implemented wall-to-wall within all four public school districts in Pulaski County. The model transforms the public high school experience by blending core academics with career and technical education. Students see relevance and better engage with their math, science, English, and social studies when taught through the lens of an occupation or industry theme that interests them. This model connects students’ learning with real-world applications, preparing them not only for college but for career and life. For more info visit www.academiesofcentralarkansas.org.

About United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is one the largest and most comprehensive non-profit agencies in the state of Arkansas serving individuals with any disability.

About Mills University Studies High School
Mills University Studies High School is located in the southeast quadrant of Pulaski County. Our state-of-the-art facilities are attractive and reputable. We anticipate great opportunities for our stakeholders in all areas and the sky’s the limit for our Public Service, Digital Communications, Fine Arts, and more.