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History & Accomplishments

History & Accomplishments

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Picture Founders Lavina Grandon and Dorothy Singleton unite with community members all over the state to form Save our Schools and fight school consolidation legislation, saving 175 school districts.

2003
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Joined broad coalition to enact an education reform agenda, resulting in funding for Pre-K, English Language Learners, Distance Learning, Incentives to teach in hard-to-staff schools, facilities, creation of Education Renewal Zones, and establishment of rigorous curriculum and accountability standards. Prioritized education funding as #1 priority.

2004
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Advocates for Community & Rural Education is incorporated in Arkansas. With assistance from Rural School & CommunityTrust, bylaws and application for tax-exempt status were submitted. Blocked passage of county-wide school districts in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Changed timeline for school districts in fiscal distress and removed capitol improvements as triggering fiscal distress.

2005
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IRS designates the organization as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Organization lands its first grant, compliments of Southern Partners Fund. Joined a national Rural Education Working Group through Rural School and Community Trust. Held regional conferences in southwest, north central, and central Arkansas. Published a white paper on impact of Omnibus Quality Education Act on disadvantaged schools.

2006
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Organization membership reaches 650 mark. Participant in Charles Stewart Mott Foundation grassroots organizing initiative through Southern Echo. Hosted first policy council meeting with chapter leaders formulating policy for organization.

2007
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Picture Organization hires its first Executive Director and staff. Expands mission to include community revitalization. Becomes part of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation’s Moving the Needle Campaign to Reduce Poverty in Arkansas and Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voice Campaign. Revitalization projects are launched in Delight, Leslie, Eudora, Lead Hill, Alpena, and Dermott.

2008
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Organization adopts trade name of Rural Community Alliance (RCA). Staff teaches financial literacy classes to more than 2,000 high school seniors and adults. Membership drive brings membership to 1,063 in 46 chapters.

2009
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Picture RCA hosts its first Bi-Annual Champions of Rural Arkansas to recognize those who have made extraordinary efforts in behalf of rural Arkansas. RCA helps launch Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign. Major partner in Formula Fairness Campaign to bring awareness to inequities in federal Title I funding for rural schools, garnering more online petition signatures than any other state.

2010
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Picture RCA rallies rural community members to fight for their local post office. Website with tips on fighting closures gets _____ hits. Newspaper articles featuring RCA’s efforts published in Equal Voice Newspaper and New York Times. RCA staff persuaded two of Arkansas’ congressmen to sponsor a relief bill to save many post offices. By 2012 a compromise was offered by USPS to leave rural post offices open at reduced hours, saving 179 post offices in Arkansas.

2011
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A regional revitalization network, Ozark Byways, is formed to promote chapter communities in north central Arkansas. RCA mentors Elaine Community members to gather and record their stories and develop into plays. Fishhook Theater is created. RCA helps several schools form foundations for long term financial support.

2012
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Picture RCA successfully champions a new law to allow school districts to turn back to the community school buildings left abandoned by consolidation. Also helps promote passage of joint use of facilities by schools and communities. Joins Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Through King Foundation, develops four parent engagement models.

2013
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Picture Delta Highways, a regional revitalization network in southeast Arkansas launches. Leslie become first chapter to host RCA annual conference. RCA membership reaches 1,800. RCA advocates for schools improving internet access through fiber optic cable. RCA forms 65th chapter. First annual Step Up for Public Schools walk and education advocacy campaign. President Lavina Grandon named as one of 40 nonprofit leaders who are making a difference in Arkansas.

2014
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Picture RCA champions a bill to provide a waiver from Act 60 consolidation, the culmination of more than ten years of efforts to keep the issue in the forefront of governors’ and legislators’ minds. RCA opens an office in Little Rock. RCA becomes charter member of Rural Schools Collaborative with membership extending through mid-west and southern U.S. RCA facilitates 22 rural focus groups for ForwARd Arkansas. RCA participates in rally to push back against charter takeover of public schools.

2015