Little Rock

Excel by Eight in Little Rock

 Little Rock has focused on digital equity in 2022, a priority area that gained awareness during the pandemic when schools and families needed more than ever to be able to use technology effectively for virtual learning. Digital equity involves not only ensuring community-wide access to affordable broadband and devices but also equipping residents with the skills needed to maintain devices and navigate the web.

The City of Little Rock was awarded $5,000 by Heartland Forward to pilot computer skills classes in English and Spanish. Classes will address knowledge gaps for hardware care and for using education-related applications so that parents can communicate better with school leaders and stay updated on grades, school events, educational resources for at-home learning, and more. The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub is creating course content and leading courses beginning in Spring 2023.

Additionally, two graduate-level researchers are surveying Little Rock residents to find out where there might be gaps in internet access, whether due to spotty broadband or affordability issues. The results from the study will help the steering committee identify strategies to strengthen digital access in the future.

Other priority areas in Little Rock include child care affordability and food security.


Home to state government

Major industries are health care, aerospace, and banking and finance

Little Rock Central High was one of the first sites of integration following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling

Steering Committee


Jennifer Glasgow, Chair, City of Little Rock

Committee Members

Sarah Argue, Pulaski County Imagination Library
Natalie Baber, Our House
Patty Barker, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance
Dr. Jay Barth, William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
Larry Clark, Life Skills for Youth
Lisa Donovan, Central Arkansas Library System
Kathy French, AR Kids Read
Tyra Greenwood, Arkansas Home Visiting Network
Arisbeth Johnson, ALAS/WINGS
Esther Jones, Little Rock School District – Early Childhood Education
David Kuchinski, The Centers for Youth and Families
Tiffany Lepard Tassin, Foster Parent
Desirae McBride, Our House
Jacqueline McEuen, Little Rock School District – School Health
Mike Ramirez, Arvest Bank
Al Richardson, Life Skills for Youth
Rhonda Sanders, Arkansas Foodbank
Anna Strong, Arkansas Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Wendy Ward, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Read more about E8 Communities

Independence County: Building Brains in Preschoolers One Conversation at a Time

Independence County: Building Brains in Preschoolers One Conversation at a Time

Preschools in Independence County have adopted innovative technology to support early brain development. LENA – short for Language ENvironment Analysis – is a professional development opportunity for early childhood educators that uses cloud-based software and a small, wearable device – often referred to as a “talk pedometer” – to measure and increase conversational turns that happen between a child and an adult caregiver.

Independence County hosts Excel by Eight fall 2022 Learning Community

Independence County hosts Excel by Eight fall 2022 Learning Community

For the first time, Excel by Eight hosted its semiannual Learning Community outside of Arkansas’s capital city, bringing more than 30 community leaders to Independence County in mid-October for local site visits and informative sessions. The two-day event took place in the cities of Batesville and Southside and focused on early care and education for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Jill Wilson, executive director of two child care centers in Mountain Home, and Garrett Dolan, senior manager of corporate social responsibility at Tyson Foods, served on a panel moderated by Roby Brock, editor-in-chief and host of Talk Business and Politics. The panelists discussed the challenges facing employers and child care providers in Arkansas, including quality of care, workforce, and affordability.