Forward Arkansas Unveils LeARner Collective Phase II

Forward Arkansas today unveiled the next iteration of its LeARner Collective, an initiative focused on empowering schools to enhance student learning. During Phase I, school teams from the Arkansas Delta and Northwest Arkansas received five months of personalized coaching to develop innovative pilot solutions to improve their structures, practices and cultures in key focus areas, such as literacy and durable skills. In Phase II, select schools will receive funding and additional support for the 2024-2025 academic year to broaden the scope and impact of their efforts.

“Whether instructional methods or engagement strategies, educators know what their students, classrooms and communities need and where they need to improve,” said Ben Kutylo, executive director. “The LeARner Collective is designed to give them the dedicated time, space and tailored support to catalyze their innovative visions and turn their ideas into actionable solutions.”

During Phase II of the LeARner Collective, participating school teams will proceed with either the continuation or the schoolwide transformation pathways.

For continuation, nine schools will extend the work they began in Phase I. Teams will be grouped based on focus areas and participate in monthly virtual sessions led by Forward and its national partner 2Revolutions. The gatherings will build participants’ capacity, foster inter-school collaboration and provide professional development. The schools participating in the continuation pathway include Ardis Ann Middle School in Bentonville, Explore Academy in Pine Bluff, Gentry Middle School, Gentry Primary School, Jerry “Pop” Williams Elementary School in Farmington, Northside Elementary in Rogers, Pea Ridge Primary School, Pine Bluff Junior High Academy and Randall G. Lynch Middle School in Farmington.

Five schools will join the schoolwide transformation pathway, receiving individualized support and on-site visits for a deeper, comprehensive experience. This cohort will begin with a community-wide visioning process in August for schools to gather feedback from stakeholder groups and determine their greatest needs and priority areas. The participating schools include Grimsley Junior High School in Bentonville, Lowell Elementary School in Rogers, the Marvell-Elaine School District, Pea Ridge Intermediate School and White Hall High School.

Forward will provide $8,000 grants to school teams in the continuation pathway and $50,000 grants to those in the schoolwide transformation pathway to support their work. Participants from both pathways will have access to regular professional development learning sessions and collective leadership development on topics such as school culture, instructional strategies, and change management. These opportunities will be available to any participating school staff members.