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
E8 Core Team
Alexis Alexander, United Way of Union County
Gloria Billings, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services
Debbie Watts, SHARE Foundation
Pam Blake, Families and Children Together (F.A.C.T.), Inc.
Becky Dixon, Smackover-Norphlet School District
Karen Hicks, The CALL in Arkansas
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
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
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.
Building a Bridge to Kindergarten Readiness Through Parks and Public Spaces
A subcommittee based in the town of Horatio, Arkansas, in Sevier County has worked to raise funds to improve area parks and recreation spaces – as well as local businesses – with a focus on early childhood development.