Union County

Excel by Eight in Union County

Union County’s strong reputation for philanthropy is seen in the Excel by Eight steering committee led by the SHARE Foundation and United Way. A true spirit of collaboration has brought key groups serving families together to identify gaps and improve connections on their local resource grid. The Union County steering committee, launched in March 2021, is focused on  identifying key stakeholders, reviewing relevant data and gaining public input on setting goals and priorities for Excel by Eight. 

One data point included in the review is the Early Development Instrument (EDI). The EDI is a population measure of how young children are developing based on the five domains of early childhood development: physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills; and communication skills and general knowledge. Kindergarten teachers in each school district completed the assessment for their students.


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

Alexis Alexander, United Way of Union County 

Gloria Billings, Department of Human Services/Division of Children and Family Services 

Pam Blake, FACT, Inc.

Wanda Corney, Parents as Teachers

Becky Dixon, Smackover-Norphlet School District

Karen Hicks, The Call Support Center

Heidi Klappenbach, Family Connects

Robin Krneta, South Arkansas Children’s Coalition

Ellen Lowe, Junction City School District

Kathy Love, Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center

Debbie McAdams, El Dorado School District

Emily O’Neal, Arkansas Children’s

Kaitlyn Rigdon, El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce

Carl Sivils, Jr., Southern Bancorp

Martha Garrett-Shaver, Family Medicine

Tequila Smith, FACT, Inc.

Carla Sparks, Arkansas Children’s

Kimberly Thomas, Strong-Huttig School District

Debbie Watts, SHARE Foundation

Rev. Larry Yarbrough, Sr., CIRCLE Initiative Foundation

Shaneil “PJ” Yarbrough, University of Arkansas, College of Education – Early Care and Education Projects

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