be_ixf;ym_202407 d_13; ct_50 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

Alumni Profile: Spotlight on Derrick Rainey

Derrick Rainey wears many hats. He’s the current mayor of Wrightsville, Arkansas; a youth pastor; the small business coordinator for the City of Little Rock; a City Year Little Rock Auxiliary board member; a graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service; and a CYLR alum and former staff member. Additionally, he is the author of the children’s book series, “Nite-Nite Tales: The Adventures of Bubbles.” The series shares life experiences through the eyes of a curious, intellectual, and talented African-American girl. It’s based on and inspired by Derrick’s daughter.

No matter which hat he wears, Derrick says his goal is to build a better future for his daughter and other children. ” I want to intentionally do things today to impact the next seven generations. If each generation does that, we’ll have the positive change we want to see.”

After graduating from the Clinton School of Public Service in 2008, he began his service with City Year Little Rock, serving for two years before becoming an Impact Manager. While school taught him the fundamentals of service, City Year helped him understand it first-hand. Now in his role as mayor and with the City of Little Rock, he puts all his experience and education together.

“You have to serve all. You have to be able to have a discourse that may be contentious at times. Agreeing to disagree doesn’t get things done. The things I learned at City Year are things I try to apply consciously in every area of the day. It’s there all the time.”

After his two years of service were over, Derrick knew there was still work left to do. He applied as Impact Manager and was hired to oversee McClellan High School and Baseline Elementary teams. The following year, he became the senior impact manager at Hall High School. During his third and final year on staff, Derrick was an impact coach who supported all the Impact Managers.

“I think on a philosophical level, as a nation, we’re encouraged to join the military. We all agree on the importance of that kind of service. National service with AmeriCorps is no less important. It allows people to give their time, energy, talent, and treasure to improve communities. The military makes the country and the world better. National service serves an interest that is disruptive but not combative. It’s disruptive because we’re trying to disrupt the traditional, inequitable systems that keep people of color and those in poverty from living up to their potential. City Year is actively trying to change that.”


Derrick’s Starfish Story

I served at Mabelvale Elementary as a Team Leader from 2008-2010 and had the opportunity to be a mentor to several students – especially to young Black boys. Our Starfish program had several students who stood out as potential leaders and outstanding scholars. One such young man was named Katorious Bluford.

This all came full circle when, as serving in my first year as the Mayor of the City of Wrightsville, I was greeting several attendees at our 41st Wrightsville Day and it all made sense. I was speaking with one of our staff members and a uniformed officer walked up. As we talked, he asked if I knew who he was, and I admitted that he looked familiar but that I didn’t know exactly who he was. However, when I saw his name tag, all of these memories and his name flashed across my mind – it was Katorious Bluford and he was now serving as a Pulaski County Sheriff Deputy!

It was at that moment that we both said each other’s names, embraced, and reminisced about times in the City Year Starfish Program and the impact of our service on his educational career and personal development. It warmed my heart to hear Deputy Bluford express that I played a positive role in his life as a young Black man and that he now serves his family and community to do the same for other young students. He recently went back to speak with students at Mabelvale Elementary and that truly shows the impact of public service in schools!

Just like the Starfish Story, I didn’t just make a difference in that one – Katorious made a difference in my life to continue on this journey of public service.

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