Sevier County

Excel by Eight in Sevier County

The Early Learning Parks project that began in 2021 expanded throughout Sevier County and more than doubled the funding investment originally awarded by Save the Children. Arkansas Community Foundation granted $14,000 to expand the StoryWalk®, install a Born Learning Trail at a second site, and increase access to free books for young children.

Additionally, more than $5,000 in materials and labor has been contributed in-kind by local community organizations and residents. This project provides free recreational and learning resources in easy-to-access public spaces, focused on early learning and development. Read more about what has been done and the project’s impact in the community.

Additionally, local leadership in Sevier County has worked in 2022 to identify strategies in the following priority areas: food security, social-emotional health, and early literacy. Child food security has been a long-term priority for this community, surfacing during data walks in 2019. Other priority areas became apparent during the pandemic.


Located in Southwest Arkansas, bordering the Gulf Coastal Plains

University of Arkansas Cossatot Community College

Quickly growing Latinx and Marshallese population

An abundance of rivers and lakes gave rise to historical fishing and forestry industries

Steering Committee

Rhonda Barringer, Gillham Public Library
Curtis Black, Horatio High School
Jeff Brown, Mayor of De Queen
Janet Cantrell, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service
Wendy Clay, Lockesburg Public Library
Johyne Fisher, De Queen Public Library
Jeana Ford, Horatio Elementary School
Susan Lansdell, Winthrop Public Library
Deborah Neel, Horatio City Council
Kelli Parsons, De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative
Mary Runnels, Arkansas Department of Human Services
Catherine Smith, Horatio Public Library
Angie Walker, Dr. Randy Walker Family Practice & Allergy Clinic
Alexis Young, Little Bitty City Enrichment Center
Gayla Youngblood, Horatio Public Schools

Read more about E8 Communities

Excel by Eight hosts Spring 2024 Learning Community

Excel by Eight hosts Spring 2024 Learning Community

Representatives from our E8 communities came together in April for our semiannual Learning Community. The agenda for the two-day event focused on identifying resources to support the development and implementation of their community plans, specifically in the areas of early care and education, maternal health, and K-3rd grade literacy.

Jefferson County hosts Fall 2023 Learning Community

Jefferson County hosts Fall 2023 Learning Community

Representatives from each of Excel by Eight’s six communities came together in Pine Bluff for two days of relationship building, learning, and idea sharing at the Fall 2023 Learning Community. Thank you to the Jefferson County steering committee and the team at the Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative for being such gracious hosts!

How an emphasis on early childhood helped usher in a $25 million investment for the city of Batesville

How an emphasis on early childhood helped usher in a $25 million investment for the city of Batesville

During an August 2023 special election, residents of Batesville voted overwhelmingly in favor of four ballot issues that marked a turning point for the city. These issues secured a $25 million investment for the expansion and improvement of the city’s parks and recreation facilities as well as an additional $110 million to go toward the construction of a new water treatment system. Opportunities to reshape a city’s infrastructure and enrich its social and recreational offerings without a tax increase seldom arise. But when they do, seizing these moments requires more than a stroke of luck; it demands collaboration, a willingness to learn, and data-informed planning.