Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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A Division of the Arkansas Department of Education

R.I.S.E. Spotlight

The R.I.S.E. Spotlight campaign focuses on the second goal of R.I.S.E. Arkansas: To create community collaboration. Literacy is not only for those in education but for all Arkansans. Business and community partnerships are critical to changing the landscape of literacy for everyone. Each month the R.I.S.E. Spotlight will shine on a community partner who is committed to helping every student obtain the reading skills necessary to achieve success in school, thereby giving them the opportunity to have a richer life. 

A partner organization will be highlighted on this page with information about their goals, mission, and projects. Watch for weekly social media posts for more information and ways to make connections with their work. Through this campaign, we hope to create a network of organizations working together to improve literacy in Arkansas.

November 2019 Spotlight: Arkansas Literacy Association

The Arkansas Literacy Association, an affiliate of the International Literacy Association, is a professional organization of individuals, institutions, and councils dedicated to promoting reading and developing literacy. The 2019 ALA Conference at the Vines “Growing a Literacy Culture” is November 14-15. Visit to register and for information. The first 2020 Book Club in January/February will be with author Monica Burns. She will be at the conference and selling her book. The association will also be hosting a Student Writing Showcase for students in grades 2-12!  

October 2019 Spotlight: FBI Little Rock Citizens Academy Alumni Association

FBI Citizens Academy Alumni AssociationVolunteers with the FBI Little Rock Citizens Academy Alumni Association (FBILRCAAA) are contacting their school of choice to coordinate a date and time to read to students during October! The FBILRCAAA is proud to support and partner with R.I.S.E. Arkansas in its outreach to improve literacy to students throughout Arkansas. The FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, separate and apart of the FBI, with the goal of promoting safer communities through educational programs, including FBI Little Rock Citizens Academy. The FBILRCAAA also participates in and supports various community service projects such as the Community Awareness Programs (CAP), and youth outreach programs. These programs are designed to promote safer communities and enhance understanding among current community leaders and future leaders. The FBILRCAAA is proud to be a chapter of the National FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association (NFBICAAA). For more information about the FBI Citizens Academy program or FBILRCAAA, email COS Maria Hoskins at or Visit the organization's website at

August 2019 Spotlight: Our House Children's Programs

The Our House Children’s Programs, including a child development center and an out-of-school program, is a licensed child care facility and a Better Beginnings Level 3 Center providing high-quality children’s programming for 150 homeless and near-homeless children daily. Our House Children’s Programs implement the two-generation approach to learning where they actively engage with parents through Family Fun Nights, including Family Literacy Nights, to ensure the program is meeting the needs of the whole family. During the Summer of 2019, Our House partnered with the Family and Community Engagement Office and the McKinney-Vento Unit of the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education for a Book Drive to provide books for children in the Our House Children’s Center and help cultivate a love of reading for all ages. In early August, 867 books were delivered to Our House. To find out more about Our House, please visit

July 2019 R.I.S.E. Spotlight: AETN Summer Literacy Campaign

Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) supports reading in many ways throughout the year. This month’s R.I.S.E. Spotlight focuses on AETN's Summer Reading program and specifically the effort to put literacy materials and books into the hands of young readers. The goal is to hand out more than 30,000 pieces of PBS KIDS summer literacy materials including reading charts, bookmarks, and activity sets. To join the fun, check with your local library for upcoming events and resources; or make plans to join AETN and ADE at Teacher Night at the Arkansas Travelers game on August 24. AETN is sharing the love of reading with many kids this summer. Be sure to check out the AETN website for more resources like literacy packets and early reading tips:

June 2019 R.I.S.E. Spotlight: The Wonder Place

The Wonder Place fosters an exploratory and creative environment for children to learn and play. It also provides an environment for parents, grandparents, caregivers, and guardians to enjoy quality playtime with children. Part of its playspace includes a reading nook for children of various ages:babies, kids learning to read, and experienced readers. The Wonder Place promotes a weekly storytime with interactive songs and storytelling. In its art room, children can often gather for activities that incorporate phonics and phonemic awareness. Learn more at

May 2019 R.I.S.E. Spotlight: Arkansas Children's Hospital

Arkansas Children's HospitalArkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is proud to be a Partner in Education with King Elementary School, located just two blocks from ACH. Employees participate in a variety of activities each year such as judging science fairs and art contests, cheering on students at the King Walk, and providing cooking classes in the afterschool program. Many employee volunteers also serve as tutors for students through MLK Reads, a program coordinated by another school partner, Second Baptist Church downtown. Studies have shown that a student who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school than a child who does read proficiently by that time. This one-on-one tutoring program is designed to provide extra reading time for students who are reading below grade level so they might improve their skills to reach grade level reading or above. Last school year, 98 percent of MLK Reads students improved their DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) score and 27 percent of them reached grade level reading. More than 1,500 books were put into the homes of students.

April 2019 R.I.S.E. Spotlight: Arkansas Literary Festival

Woman carrying a pencil and a bookThe 16th annual Arkansas Literary Festival, April 25-28, 2019, encourages the growth of a more literate populace through an annual event, which is the largest gathering of readers and writers in the state. By bringing together an array of best-selling, prize-winning, and emerging authors, the festival offers Arkansans an interactive opportunity with many talented writers. Additionally, the event features performers, contests, spoken word and open mic events, activities, workshops, book-signings, and more.

The festival is supported by many community partners including the Arkansas Humanities Council, the Department of Arkansas Heritage,  and Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, among many others. Additionally, it places many authors in area schools through the Writers in the Schools program, or WITS, providing a set of 30 books to most of the classes each author addresses. On Thursday, April 25, the festival will provide this year’s Day of Science and Reading at the Clinton Presidential Center and the Museum of Discovery. Students participate in a field trip to each venue and hear presenters. On the Saturday of the festival, at the Children’s Library & Learning Center, hundreds of books will be given away to children and families. For more information, please visit

March 2019 R.I.S.E. Spotlight: Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

Books & Breakfast = Success

March is School Breakfast Month in Arkansas! This year’s theme is Books & Breakfast = Success. We're celebrating the importance of school breakfast in keeping children healthy, focused and ready to learn. The School Breakfast Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, plays a crucial role in making sure children get the food they need to focus and excel in the classroom. Students who skip the first meal of the day have slower memory recall, make more errors and are more likely to be absent or tardy.

Arkansas has made strides in its school breakfast program, moving from 10th to 7th in the nation for increasing participation. Throughout March, the Arkansas Hunger Alliance is challenging schools to invite community leaders to eat with the students so they can see the benefits of the breakfast program first-hand.

Please see the March is School Breakfast Month Flyer to find out about the exciting activities planned and learn how schools could receive recognition and rewards.

February 2019 R.I.S.E. Spotlight: AR Kids Read

AR Kids Read

During the 2018-2019 school year, AR Kids Read has been coordinating more than 400 tutors who volunteer one hour per week to read with students at 49 schools in Pulaski County. Tutors work with two students for 30 minutes each with a focus on improving skills in vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Tutoring begins in October and lasts through mid-March, which gives the tutors time to develop relationships with the students and help foster a love of reading.

AR Kids Read tutors also encourage students to enter a writing contest to share their love of reading. This semester, students enter by submitting a fictional story based on the prompt “A tale of friendship found, tested and treasured” from the back cover of The Monster Next Door. Entries need to be submitted by Feb. 8. For details, visit

To learn more about AR Kids Read, visit
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For more information, please contact:

Lisa Bailey, K-12 Literacy Specialist
Arkansas Department of Education
Four Capitol Mall
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Phone: 501-682-4377
Suzanne K. Jones, Special Advisor for Learning Services
Arkansas Department of Education
Four Capitol Mall, Mail Slot #10
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Phone: 501-683-5266
Fax: 501-683-4802
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