What's Working in Arkansas Series


Arkansas has successful preK-12 programs, practices, and approaches. The “What’s Working in Arkansas Series” is about what is working education in Arkansas. Through storytelling and videos, the "What's Working in Arkansas Series" shows how Arkansas communities are taking action to give students a world-class education.

Experience the "What's Working in Arkansas Series" at

Crafting a Bold Vision for Education in Arkansas


Crafting a Bold Vision for Education in Arkansas, released by ForwARd Arkansas, shares ForwARd's process as a model that can be adopted by regions and states across the US. What ForwARd has accomplished and learned illustrates a few important lessons for foundations, community leaders, business leaders, and policymakers considering how to undertake ambitious systems and policy interventions driven by diverse groups of stakeholders. In order to succeed, ForwARd must continue to be:

  • Vision-driven and bold
  • Grounded in Arkansans' aspirations for greatness
  • Designed to make Arkansas a model for academic excellence
  • Driven by passionate leaders committed to excellence
  • Guided by the best knowledge and resources

Read the full report at

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A New Vision for Education in Arkansas

This report shares ForwARd Arkansas's 95 recommendations for realizing its vision of Arkansas as a state where every student graduates high school prepared for success in college and the workplace. 



The State of Education in Arkansas

This report is one of several data sources ForwARd Arkansas will use to develop its comprehensive plan to improve education in our state. Paired with input from Arkansans through an online survey, meetings, and advocacy group outreach, this report will provide a strong foundation to advance education in Arkansas.

Report Summary
Full Report


Full Speed Ahead: Moving the Needle on Grade-Level Reading in Arkansas

Full Speed Ahead describes describes specific actions parents, educators, community leaders, business leaders, and policymakers can take to increase family and community engagement, increase school readiness, reduce chronic absence, and provide high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs to prepare all Arkansas students to read at grade level by the end of third grade.



Interim Study on Grade-Level Reading

The Interim Study on Grade-Level Reading was presented to the Arkansas General Assembly in fall 2014. This report outlines key strategies to ensure all Arkansas students read at grade-level by the end of third grade by 2020.

Report Summary
Full Report


Continuous Improvement for College Completion

Continuous Improvement for College Completion details the development, implementation, and preliminary impact of the Arkansas System-Level Strategy for Student Success. Reform efforts currently underway are helping to bolster college success and completion in Arkansas, and the System-Level Strategy constitutes a model of collaboration and continuous improvement that can be adopted in other states.


What Is Working in Arkansas Education

What Is Working in Arkansas Education seeks not only to lift up examples of success in Arkansas's education system, but also to challenge community leaders, policymakers, administrators, and anyone committed to higher graduation rates to advocate for and adopt these effective practices in Arkansas’s postsecondary institutions.


This three-volume report analyzes key demographic trends and the economic impact of immigrants and the Marshallese population in Arkansas. This new report is a follow-up to a similar study in 2007.

Report Summary
Informe de Summario
Volume 1: Changing Workforce & Demographics
Volume 2: Economic & Fiscal Benefits & Costs
Volume 3: A Profile of the Marshallese Community in Arkansas
Infographic (English)
Infographic (Español)


NCRP Assessment of the WRF

NCRP examines the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation’s strategic grantmaking to promote systemic change by reducing poverty and inequity in Arkansas. The “NCRP Assessment of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation” reviews current strategies and practices of the Foundation, the impact of its Moving the Needle Strategic Plan, and the quality of partnerships with grantees and stakeholders.


Moving the Needle 2008-2013: Looking Back, Going Forward

Looking Back, Going Forward tells the story of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation’s short-term impact since launching the Moving the Needle Strategic Plan. Developed in 2007, Moving the Needle was based on close to 100 conversations with policymakers, grassroots community leaders, business leaders, youth and national experts on community change.


Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families: Affecting Policy and Programming

As the second in a series of “Partners in Progress" publications showcasing WRF's longstanding investments and highlighting what the Foundation has learned through these investments, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families: Affecting Policy and Programming candidly explores the challenges and lessons learned during the evolution of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) into an anchor institution in Arkansas.


Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement in the Gulf/Midsouth Region

Every dollar invested in advocacy brings $114 in investments for communities, according to this national study produced by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement in the Gulf/Midsouth Region analyzes the activities of 20 organizations in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi between 2005 and 2009 to see how they are “mobilizing citizens and promoting policies designed to expand opportunity and justice in local communities.”


Southern Bancorp: Revitalizing the Rural South

As the first in a series of “Partners in Progress” publications showcasing WRF’s longstanding investments and highlighting what the Foundation has learned through these investments, Southern Bancorp: Revitalizing the Rural South candidly explores the evolution of Southern Bancorp’s innovative rural community development model and the impact it has in Arkansas and Mississippi. It highlights the opportunities and challenges unique to a rural CDFI and exposes the complexity of rebuilding distressed communities. Furthermore, it describes the lessons learned through the longstanding grantee relationship between WRF and Southern.


Race, Poverty, and Transforming Rural Economies

This report captures the spirit, enduring themes, evolving theory of change, and lessons learned about addressing persistent poverty and race-based wealth inequality in the rural United States. After a decade of grantmaking in rural America, the National Rural Funders Collaborative released this report, with support from the Kresge and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundations.



NCHEMS Report on Improving Higher Education in Arkansas

According to a report released by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), Arkansas should set high impact goals in order to improve higher education outcomes. Supported in part by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the report describes specific actions that the state should consider if Arkansas is to increase its college graduation rate ranking from 49th nationally.



The Single Parent Scholarship Fund

The Single Parent Scholarship Fund helps break the poverty cycle. Capturing the post-graduation experience of more than 50 recipients of ASPSF financial aid, mentoring, and other support, this study indicates that education is the key to defeating poverty in Arkansas.



Entrepreneurial Arkansas: Connecting the Dots

The Connecting the Dots study focuses on entrepreneurship as a viable component of an economic development strategy for Arkansas. This study provided the foundation for much of WRF’s work in economic development over the last decade.



Water Issues in Arkansas: An Unfinished Story

Water is one of Arkansas’s most important but little understood economic and natural resources. Discover several tools and policy options that can help Arkansas avert crisis and manage the use of Arkansas’s water. Click here to view the summary report or to view the full report.



Creativity in the Natural State: Growing Arkansas’s Creative Economy





Volume 1 defines the creative economy and estimates the economic impact of the 26,858 Arkansans working in arts and other creative industries on the state’s economy.

Volume 2 highlights the varied contributions Arkansas individuals, organizations, and institutions are making to the state’s creative economy and focuses on the stories that make the state a vibrant place to do business.

Volume 3 makes the case for investing more in Arkansas’s creative economy as a strategy for economic development and assesses both the challenges and opportunities for further growth.

Volume 4 summarizes the most important findings of the first three volumes and provides recommendations on how Arkansas’s creative economy can be enhanced.

National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics


The National Task Force on Early Education for Hispanics urges that Hispanic children be enrolled in high-quality education programs as early as possible in order to make more rapid progress in closing the Hispanic–White achievement gap.

A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas — 2007


This widely cited summary report and two companion volumes discuss key demographic trends, economic factors, and public-policy issues associated with immigrants in Arkansas. The first volume, Immigrant Workers, Families, and Their Children, provides a demographic overview of the state’s foreign-born population, explores the composition of the immigrant labor force, and describes trends in the state’s population of children in immigrant families. The second volume, Impacts on the Arkansas Economy, describes immigrants’ purchasing power, tax contributions, fiscal costs, and indirect economic impacts through spin-off jobs.

Executive Summary

Volume 1: Immigrant Workers, Families, & Their Children

Volume 2: Impacts on the Arkansas Economy

Tax Options for Arkansas: Funding Education After the Lake View Case

Summary Report


Complete Report


An executive summary of the Tax Options report reviews Arkansas’s tax system and analyzes an array of funding options that could satisfy the Lake View mandate.

The Arkansas Supreme Court’s 2002 Lake View decision is based on findings of constitutional deficiencies in the state’s education system. The complete report is intended to inform policymakers and the public about the potential advantages and drawbacks of various revenue-raising strategies, as well as the differential impact of these strategies on taxpayers at all income levels.

Building a Better Arkansas Tax System: Evaluating the Options


The shift of more governmental responsibility from the federal level to the states means that Arkansas’s elected representatives are faced with complex issues regarding state and local services and the taxes that pay for them. This report provides policymakers with a framework for making critical decisions about tax policy.

Miles to Go Arkansas — Pre-Kindergarten: The Key to a Better Future For All


Arkansas’s economy can grow by an extra $15 billion by 2035 if high-quality pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) becomes available to all three- and four-year-olds among the state’s low-income and working families, according to a report released by the Southern Education Foundation. This landmark study was among the factors that led to the current excellent funding of Pre-K in Arkansas.  Entitled Miles to Go: Arkansas — Pre-Kindergarten: The Key to a Better Future For All, the report recommended that the Arkansas legislature provide an additional $20 million annual appropriation for the growth of Pre-K in 2006–2007 and continue to make state appropriations for each year afterward until the state has established a universal Pre-K system that is supported by regular state revenues.