Union County

Excel by Eight in Union County

The E8 coalition in Union County, led by the SHARE Foundation and United Way, identified four priority areas in alignment with their organizational goals and the Excel by Eight resource grid.

Priorities include child care availability, mental health, parent and family resources, and affordable housing. In 2023, the steering committee will approve goals, guide needs assessments, and review and evaluate strategies that are locally appropriate, feasible, and impactful for children ages 0-8 and their families.


Located on southern state border

Major industries include oil and gas and chemicals 

Home to Murphy Arts District, an arts and entertainment district in downtown El Dorado

Largest county in Arkansas, in terms of square miles

Steering Committee

E8 Core Team

Karen Hicks, El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce
Amy Sturdivant, SHARE Foundation
Tyler Turner, United Way of Union County
Jill Weinischke, SHARE Foundation

Committee Members
Gloria Billings, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Service
Pam Blake, Families and Children Together (F.A.C.T.), Inc.
Becky Dixon, Smackover-Norphlet School District
Heidi Klappenbach, Family Connects
Kathy Love, Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center
Ellen Lowe, Junction City School District
Debbie McAdams, El Dorado School District
Kaitlyn Rigdon, Union County Chamber of Commerce
Tequila Smith, Families and Children Together (F.A.C.T.), Inc.
Kimberly Thomas, Strong-Huttig School District

Read more about E8 Communities

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.