Schmieding Foundation donates $500,000 to Springdale program focused on health careers

SPRINGDALE — The Schmieding Foundation has donated $500,000 to the Pathway Academy at Springdale Public Schools, a University of Arkansas program for medical sciences.

The statewide initiative aims to prepare low-income students in kindergarten through high school for opportunities in science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare, according to a press release from the foundation.

The program aims to diversify the healthcare workforce in Arkansas, advancing the medical school’s goal of making dramatic and lasting improvements in healthcare to make Arkansas the state healthiest in the region,” the statement continued.

In addition to Springdale, Pathway offers the program in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs and Jonesboro.

Elmdale and Jones Elementary Schools served as a pilot project for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, said Melissa Fink, Springdale’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and innovation. About 90 students attended two-week summer day camps at schools, she said.

The program also provides an opportunity for parent participation and education, said Shanea Nelson, executive director of the State Pathway program.

Springdale teachers have been hired to teach the camps this summer and trained in the program’s curriculum, Fink said. Schmieding’s donation will be used to expand the program to include the school district’s sixth through eighth graders, ultimately providing opportunities for students up to 12th grade.

“Then we are ready to transfer them, hopefully, to an undergraduate or diploma program in health care,” Nelson said.

This summer’s program focused on healthy eating, with hands-on activities. Future programs will focus on mental health, community service and other life skills, Nelson said.

Fink said the students grew vegetables and prepared the vegetables while wearing white toques. The students also took a field trip to the University of Arkansas to get a taste of student life, she continued.

Each student received a white lab coat in a “white coat” ceremony, similar to the ceremony at which new doctors celebrate the end of their medical studies, Fink said.

The academy is managed by the UAMS Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“UAMS is honored by the continued support of the Schmieding Foundation and is inspired by its leadership in health care and education in Northwest Arkansas,” said Chancellor Cam Patterson.

The Schmieding Foundation was created by brothers Lawrence and Hubert “Bert” Schmieding.

The academy will be renamed the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Schmieding Foundation Pathways Academy of Springdale in recognition of the nonprofit group’s continued support of the university.

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