The lack of economic opportunities in Pine Bluff inspired us to create TOPPS Graphics shop to provide job training for local youth. Students learn how to use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Flexi Sign and Microsoft Office to design TOPPS program tee-shirts, hats and other products. Now considered one of the leading custom design shops in Pine Bluff, the shop provides students with an opportunity to unleash their creativity and learn business management skills while earning their own money. The program helps youth develop self-sufficiency, independence, self-worth, and a desire to give back.
OUTCOME: TOPPS’ Graphics Shop employs five teens per semester who design and produce products that are sold throughout the community, generating about $40,000 in gross revenue each year.
TOPPS helps Pine Bluff rebuild and thrive by requiring teens in its DREAMS program to complete 50 hours of community service each year. Teens participate in a variety of activities: they help clean up city property, parks, highways and neighborhood streets; they visit local nursing homes and provide residents with gift baskets of donated socks, toiletries and snacks; they also help provide blankets and snacks for cancer patients.
OUTCOME: More than 150 TOPPS students and graduates provide 6,000 hours of volunteer service to the community each year.
To help improve reading comprehension and literacy throughout the Pine Bluff, which is home to a significant number of adults who cannot read, TOPPS invites city residents of all ages to borrow or keep books from the library it maintains at its main office. Book donations from Dollar General and other sources allows TOPPS to keep about 2,000 books on its shelves at all times. TOPPS also hosts a popular a community-wide activity called “One Million Pages to Excellence,” a summer reading challenge that encourages parents to read with their children. When the 1,000,000-page goal is met, TOPPS provides a neighborhood cookout for all participants.
OUTCOME: Only one out of 4 students entering the TOPPS reading program can read proficiently; after participating in the program, 3 out of 4 can read at or above state reading standards.
Breast Health, Education, Access and Treatment. Arkansas ranks among the lowest states in the nation for breast cancer screening. Without early detection, women are more likely to die from breast cancer, especially if they’re black or Hispanic. One reason for the discrepancy: the high cost of travel for diagnosis and treatment. TOPPS partnered with the Susan B. Komen Foundation to educate women and girls in the Jefferson County area about breast health and to improve access to care for those who need treatment. Women with breast cancer who need specialized treatment receive gas cards to help with transportation costs and funds to cover other daily living expenses. Without financial support, many of these women will opt to forego treatment or choose less expensive and less effective options, which can be life-threatening choices.
OUTCOME: Over 1,000 young women and their mothers have participated in this program receiving educational information sessions, mammogram referrals and transportation assistance.