Why We Work
The Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy was established on the heels of the landmark desegregation settlement of three school districts, Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Pulaski County. After 30 years of payments to the school districts for desegregation efforts, the black-white achievement gap had not improved.
The previous summer, educators and administrators at the University of Arkansas launched a pilot program under the leadership of then Vice Chancellor of UALR’s Division of Educational, Student Services, and Student Life, Dr. Charles W. Donaldson, to better prepare recent high school graduates for college. Forty-four newly enrolled students at the university who were required to take remediation courses based on their test scores, were enrolled in the Charles W. Donaldson Summer Bridge Academy. By the end of the three-week intensive instruction:
- Eleven students were eligible for honors composition,
- Thirty-eight students, or 88 percent, bypassed developmental math, with an average math score increase of 20 points,
- Almost 80 percent bypassed developmental composition, with average composition scores increase of 18 points, and
- Fifty percent bypassed developmental reading.
Due to the efforts of the administrators of the Summer Bridge Academy at UALR, the Pulaski County Special School District, Attorney John Walker, and Philander Smith College, the Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy was officially launched in the summer of 2014. All 58 students who enrolled as the first group of Donaldson Scholars planned on attending college by the end of the three-week program, some who had no plans of attending college prior to attending the academy. Donaldson Scholars is open to grades 9-12 from high schools in the PCSSD. The Summer Bridge Academy is open to students from any school district who apply and are admitted to UALR.