Marshallese Educational Initiative, Inc., (MEI)

  • not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization
  • founded in July 2013, received 501(c)(3) status in May 2014
  • based in northwest Arkansas where the largest concentration of Marshallese in the continental United States reside
  • first nonprofit established in Arkansas with a Marshallese focus

OUR Vision & Mission

MEI was established to blend scholarly research with practical outreach efforts to create awareness on a national stage, while also making a real difference in the lives of individual Marshallese. Through educational programming, MEI promotes the cultural, intellectual, and historical awareness of the Marshallese people and facilitates intercultural dialogue to foster positive social change. 

Faith Jibas, Dr. Becky Paneitz, Consul-General Carmen Chong-Gum, Madison Chong Gum, and Dr. Jessica A. Schwartz.

Faith Jibas, Dr. Becky Paneitz, Consul-General Carmen Chong-Gum, Madison Chong Gum, and Dr. Jessica A. Schwartz at a 2013 event at NWACC.

OUR Goals

  • educate the non-Marshallese community about Marshallese history and culture through presentations, community outreach, and language/culture classes
  • increase educational attainment levels among the Marshallese community from ESL and GED through graduate and professional degrees
  • empower Marshallese community members through the collection of oral histories and songs to archive Marshallese traditions and cultural ways
  • raise awareness about the impact of US nuclear testing and that of climate change through educational programming
  • help Marshallese college students succeed academically, build leadership skills, learn the Marshallese language, and share their history and culture with younger generations

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

MEI was co-founded in July 2013 by Dr. Jessica A. Schwartz (N.Y.U. 2012), Assistant Prof. of Musicology at UCLA, and Dr. April L. Brown (U.A. 2006), Professor of History at NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Arkansas. Both are humanities scholars and specialists in interdisciplinary higher education. Jessica spent two years in the RMI conducting fieldwork and has been working with community members in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri since 2010. April is a long time proponent of international education and as NWACC’s Honors Director 2005-2014 she founded and directed the global themed semester. MEI programming focuses on: promoting cultural and historical awareness through events and workshops, increasing the educational attainment levels of Marshallese in the region, and raising awareness of the linked global issues of our nuclear legacy and climate change, including its impact on Marshallese culture and increased migration to the region.

Dr. Jessica A. Schwartz, left, and Dr. April L. Brown, right, with at a Springdale Rotary Luncheon.

Dr. Jessica A. Schwartz, left, and Dr. April L. Brown, right, at a Springdale Rotary Luncheon in 2013.