Call for BIG IDEAS


Program Associate Sarah McBroom explains why we need your BIG IDEAS to transform this little place we all call home.


My story

When I was 18, I left home and moved 800 miles away for college. I craved an opportunity to live outside my comfort zone. Four years of doing just that was life-changing. But as graduation approached, I had a decision to make. Would I return home to Arkansas?

I wish I could say I made that decision enthusiastically and with conviction. But at the time I was really conflicted. Something about walking down the busy streets of a big city makes you feel accomplished as a twenty-something. The short and relatively un-congested drive to an office in downtown Little Rock was less exciting.

My heart was here in the Natural State, but there was a nagging question of whether I should be somewhere else–somewhere bigger. It was a feeling that people I knew would think less of my résumé if it had Arkansas on it. Like if I wasn’t in Chicago or New York or D.C., I wasn’t reaching my potential. But does small really mean less significant?

Why small is a big deal

As I experienced living 800 miles from home, there is something to be said for getting outside of your comfort zone. Growth requires being bold and taking risks. But there is also something to be said for working where your heart is, where you have deep roots that can anchor you and drive you when the work inevitably gets tough.

There is also something to be said for working on a smaller scale. With a state the size of Arkansas (with a statewide population that is about a third the size of New York City), one person with one idea can have a big impact. When that one person joins a network of advocates and resources, it can change the tide of a whole state in a profound way. Deep roots, small scale, big impact. That’s why I’m here and will never leave.

Why you are a big deal

The Foundation recently released Ready to Read NOW, a series of videos that share solutions to the goals of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. To follow this up, we launched our BIG IDEAS survey, because we wanted to hear from you. We wanted to know what you and your community were doing to get our students Ready to Read NOW and to hear your big ideas for what else we can do.

In truth, we have received few responses thus far. In reflecting on our approach, several friends have mentioned the word “big” is intimidating–that they and others may feel like they only have small ideas and are therefore unmotivated to respond to our call for BIG IDEAS.

That conversation brought me back to my return to Arkansas, how I felt like small wasn’t good enough. But since I’ve moved back home, here’s the truth I’ve found: Small ideas in small places are a big deal. In fact, the seemingly small voices and actions of regular Arkansans in our small communities will make the difference between success and failure.

To reach the goal of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Reading, we don’t need a team or a department or a system, even. We need a movement. And your participation is critical to our success. Your small ideas are a big deal.

You may be one person, but you know you. You alone know how you can contribute. You know your community best, what works, and how you fit in.

Tell us here, and together let’s do big things in this small place we call home.

See Arkansans' Ready to Read NOW

BIG IDEAS in Action


When seven out of ten third-grade students in Arkansas–the majority of our children–aren't reading at grade level, it's time to take action. Our 2015 Annual Report, Ready to Read NOW, has solutions that create a brighter future for Arkansas, starting with our youngest students. Find out how you can take action now by reading the full report at



Equity Stories

Program Associate Sarah McBroom explains why we need your BIG IDEAS to transform this little place we all call home.