RCA turns ten this year! Find out more about our Ten-Year Celebration going on throughout 2013: “Honoring our journey. Paving the way for our future.”
Watch this adorable video of children explaining how the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading will help them be successful. Become part of the campaign at ar-glr.net
RCA's 2012 annual report is published here. Read about the local work of chapters and RCA's work in Arkansas.
Archive for the 'What’s New' Category
Vote today for our “Program Sisters” at Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to present at national conference
Takema Robinson-Bradberry and Regan Gruber Moffit have a great message about Communications to deliver at a national conference this fall in New Orleans. They need YOUR vote to get invited! It takes about two seconds to vote. Voting ends May 22. Here’s Regan and Takema’s request:
We are excited about the chance to share what’s happening in Arkansas with communications professionals from around the country but need your VOTE.
Rural Community Alliance organizer Dorothy Singleton and co-organizer Shirley Washington collaborated with RCA members, Jefferson County churches, Pine Bluff School District, Arkansas Out of School Network, Arkansas Opportunity to Learn, NAACP, and participants for a successful Education Summit with a focus on Parent Engagement. A special thank you to Pine Bluff School District Parent Center for printing of flyers and distribution to parents. Read about the Summit in RCA’s April Newsletter.
Here’s a great way for RCA chapters to take an active role locally in the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Valley Springs RCA chapter purchased a book for each Kindergarten graduate and included the flyer linked below. It contains tips for parents about helping their youngster stop summer learning loss by reading books, writing stories, etc. Other chapters are welcome to use this flyer in their own local projects.
Eudora’s Bettye Presley demonstrates how one person can make a difference in the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. She recently donated 20 books for Delta 180 participants. Presley is part of the Eudora Reads! team. Way to go, Bettye. Thanks for showing us a great way to champion the campaign!
Ozark Byways is a collaborative effort of a network of RCA chapters in north central Arkansas. Ozark Byways announces an event on April 13 to showcase the natural beauty of the area, share the history and heritage of each community, and promote local businesses. Click here to see a map and listing of heritage events and business discounts for the Spring Blossom Tour. We invite you to follow the winding road for a genuine Ozarks experience.
School closings across Arkansas have been devastating to students, parents, and communities over the past decade. RCA supports HB1938 by Rep. Randy Alexander that would suspend administrative reorganization of school districts and school closures for two years until this issue is further studied.
RCA solicited videos from students of closed schools to illustrate to legislators the adverse impact school closings have had on students and families.
Please take a few minutes and watch these short, but powerful videos of students giving their first-hand account. These stories are not isolated, but representative of what has happened across our state since 2003.
RCA members’ voices have been heard! Representative Kelley Linck wins the “persistence award” for passing HB1310 that will require school districts to sell, lease, donate, or preserve school buildings that have been empty for two years or more. See video of Rep. Linck’s introduction of the bill and testimony by Renee Carr. At RCA’s request, Rep. Linck introduced the bill in the 2011 session of the Arkansas Legislature. It was referred to an interim committee for study. RCA staff members Dorothy Singleton, Renee Carr, and Lavina Grandon along with RCA member Cindy Aikman of Fourche Valley testified to the joint house and senate education committee in Summer 2012. They told of the plight of communities who would like to do something positive with these empty buildings to breathe new life into their communities, yet are unable to do this. A big thank you goes to Rep. Linck and all the legislators who voted for this bill the second time around! The vote was unanimous in both the Senate and House. Thank you to RCA members who vigorously contacted legislators to win support for the bill!
Rural Community Alliance 10-YEAR CELEBRATION:
“Honoring our journey. Paving the way for our future.”
A letter to our friends and supporters from RCA president, Lavina Grandon:
Rural Community Alliance is 10 years old this year. Yes, it seems impossible, but it’s been 10 years since Save Our Schools rallied at the Capitol to save rural schools from consolidation, ten years since the Lake View lawsuit ruling focused the state on education as its number one priority, ten years since we mobilized behind an education reform package that catapulted Arkansas from near last in educational rankings around the nation to #5 the past two years in Education Week’s Quality Counts report.
In those 10 years, Save Our Schools has grown from a disorganized outpouring of support for rural schools and students to an organized movement that focuses on providing stability and opportunity for rural schools, students, and communities. The name change to Rural Community Alliance in 2008 reflects our broader mission of education quality, access, equity, and opportunity in rural public schools allied to engagement, supports, capacity building, and opportunity in our rural communities.
The RCA Board has designed a year-long schedule of both on-going activities and monthly events to celebrate the last 10 years and build for the future. Let’s make 2013 the best year yet for helping our rural schools and communities survive and thrive!
- MONTHLY E-NEWSLETTER to publish anniversary activities in our chapters, celebrate our successes, and honor people and organizations who have significantly contributed to our movement. Send us PICTURES, PICTURES, PICTURES of what you are doing so we can share the excitement.
- “PROUD TO BE RURAL” BUTTONS: We are designing 10-year commemorative buttons to wear on your lapel and electronic buttons to post on your Facebook page, website, etc.
- GROW OUR MEMBERSHIP DRIVE: The RCA Board challenges every member to sign up one new member for each month for the months of March through December. Anyone who has 10 memberships by the end of December will get free registration to the 2014 Summer Conference and will get their name in a drawing for a $100 gift card. Remember: We are an intergenerational organization; you can sign up your children, parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends—anyone who has a stake in rural schools and communities.
- GROW OUR CAPACITY FUND DRIVE: We have been challenged by our major foundation funder, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, to raise $25,000 for our 2014 budget. The foundation has committed to match this with $75,000. The Board would like to ask everyone to honor RCA’s 10-year anniversary by contributing in some increment of 10. If you have ideas for this, send them to us and we will pass them along. Here are some of our suggestions:
- Give a one-time gift of $10, $100, $1,000, etc.
- Give $10 a month for 10 months.
- Solicit donations of $10 each from 10 different people.
- Hold a fundraiser in your community; send $100 to RCA and keep the rest for your chapter activities.
FEBRUARY: RALLY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS MONTH. Our RCA chapters have some great public schools, and we have helped to make them that way. This is a great time to celebrate the successes of the past 10 years in education, both locally and state-wide. We encourage you to hold a local rally—large or small, stand alone or piggy-backed on another school event or local event, your own or a group of schools or communities—to publicize your local successes and state-wide progress. Invite your legislators. With a strong push for charter schools and private school vouchers in the Arkansas Legislature this year, there is NO BETTER TIME to show the good that traditional public schools are doing. Let us know and we will help you with planning and materials. If you can, attend the state-wide rally for public education on the morning of February 20 at the Capitol.
MARCH: OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN MONTH. Staying with our education theme, in March we are asking all of our members to advocate for research-based policy measures that close achievement gaps and assure every child the opportunity to learn. Contact us for flyers listing issues and bills we support to hand or mail your legislators and also for solutions you can implement in your own community.
APRIL: CELEBRATE OUR RURAL HERITAGE MONTH. Do something to preserve, celebrate, or promote the natural or historical heritage of your community. For example: Ozark Byways communities are planning a Spring Blossom Tour for April 20, with wide publicity and promotion of their historic sites and natural beauties. Let us know if we can help you plan or promote your event.
MAY: COMMUNITY LITERACY MONTH. Did you know that between 30% and 70% of Arkansas third graders are not reading on grade-level, depending on what measure you use? We know that in most of our rural schools the achievement level is at the high end of this scale, perhaps even off the scale. Third grade is where children should stop learning to read and start reading to learn. It is a tragedy if even ONE of our children fails to achieve this milestone. To celebrate RCA’s participation in the Arkansas Grade-Level Reading Campaign, plan to promote literacy either individually or as a group during the month of May. Look for suggestions on how you can be involved in future e-newsletters.
JUNE: LOCAL ADVOCACY AND SERVICE MONTH. Check to see what school board positions will be open in your school district and start recruiting qualified candidates. Talk with your district about strengthening its parent engagement plan and policy. Volunteer to serve on a local board or committee. Volunteer at a local event, food pantry, help center. Start a volunteer corps for your community. Other suggestions will be forthcoming in e-newsletters.
JULY: CELEBRATE FREEDOM MONTH. Schedule and participate in local events that celebrate the freedoms we have in our great country and send your pictures to RCA to publish in a special e-newsletter.
AUGUST: GATHER TOGETHER MONTH. Come to the RCA summer conference or send someone from your community. Let’s try to get someone from all 54 chapters to come and help us “honor our journey and pave the way for our future.”
SEPTEMBER: PARENT AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MONTH. The factor that most influences a child’s educational success is the engagement of the parent. We will be rolling out special events and initiatives to get parents and communities involved in supporting our children and our schools.
OCTOBER: ORGANIZING AND ADVOCACY MONTH. There will be a month’s worth of activities and events that you can join in to honor the people (you!) and organizations that make Arkansas a better place to live, work, and go to school.
NOVEMBER: HONOR OUR VETERANS MONTH. November will be a month when rural Arkansas shows its patriotic spirit and respect for those who serve. Many of our schools and communities host events honoring military veterans. Let’s also remember to honor our other public servants—fire fighters, policemen, nurses, emergency responders, and teachers. Send us your pictures and stories so we can document this important aspect of rural life.
DECEMBER: CHRISTMAS IN THE COMMUNITY. Christmas is about love, about coming together to share our common humanity, about appreciating our blessings, and acknowledging the Lordship of our Creator. Let us know about the Christmas celebrations and events both religious and secular in your community so that we can share and help promote them.
It’s been a great 10 years. Get involved! Let’s have fun as we celebrate what we’ve accomplished and dedicate ourselves to making the next 10 even better!
Lavina Grandon, President
Rural Community Alliance
Renee Carr, Executive Director, email@example.com 870-615-2195
Lavina Grandon, Policy and Education Director, firstname.lastname@example.org 870-365-6894
Dorothy Singleton, Lead/Delta Organizer, email@example.com 870-718-3836
Matt Grandon, Web Designer/Projects Director, firstname.lastname@example.org 870-754-5554
Tanya Broadnax, Southeast Organizer, email@example.com 870-538-4051
Penny Harris, Southwest Organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org 903-244-5752
Candace Williams, Youth Organizer/Special Projects, email@example.com 870-714-0881
HB1040 may sound innocuous and even promising for educating Arkansas students, but consider the far reaching adverse impact it will have on the public school system and the loss of local control of schools.
Read Oppose HB1040 which points out why we should be concerned and talking to our legislators to actively oppose this bill. The last section is a list of questions to ask your legislator about HB1040.
Kudos to our Mt. Judea chapter members who are trailblazers for innovative literacy programs that support the Arkansas Grade Level Reading Campaign.
For Christmas 2012, Ron Wells built his wife, Bertie, something special. Being a retired school librarian and having a lifelong love of books and reading, Bertie had learned about The Little Free Library Movement and wanted to participate.
Using cedar, Ron built Bertie a ‘Book Nook’ and set it up in their front yard near the edge of the road. The purpose of the Book Nook is to share books and magazines with anyone who happens to drive by. On it will be written “Take a Book, Pass it On.”
This is the mission of The Little Free Library:
- To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
- To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations
- To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world – more than Andrew Carnegie–and then more.
The organization has already exceeded their goal on libraries. They estimate between 5,000 and 6,000 libraries already worldwide. Their website is www.littlefreelibrary.org. Ron and Bertie hope their Book Nook inspires others in Newton County to build one and share books and magazines. They expect their Little Free Library sign to come any day now.