Arkansas Community Foundation and Excel by Eight have joined forces to help ensure all children in our state have a better start to reach their full potential. Our children must be fully supported starting as early as prenatal. Families are the first teachers and we must make sure that parents and their children are taken care of through their most formative years. When we fully equip families, we can instill the importance of reading to children, ensure healthy child-hood development and help them get a strong start on learning and growing. Currently almost two-thirds of Arkansas students lack the early literacy skills they’ll need to be successful through high school and beyond. Early readers make successful students. Research indicates the transition from third to fourth grade marks a shift from learning to read to reading to learn. There is a direct correlation between third-grade reading and high school graduation rates. That then affects the quality of our future work-force post-graduation. This whole ripple effect starts with early brain development and family health. When we get early childhood development right, all Arkansans benefit. Recent economic volatility can mean more friends and neighbors struggling to make ends meet, which can put children at risk. Children can’t reach their full potential without lots of health and education support early on. The Sharp County Community Foundation grants support local programs like Arkansas Single Parents Scholarship Fund and Ozark Foothills Literacy Project that are proven pathways to help fully support families so they can raise early readers. Thankfully, it doesn’t take great wealth to make a great difference You don’t have to be Bill Gates. Through the Community Foundation, a little goes a long way and makes it possible for all of us to make extraordinary impact in our communities through philanthropy. No one is excluded from supporting the most important causes in our community like helping families and young children. Together we can build a better future for our young children, our future workforce, and our future leaders. Sharp County Community Foundation is a part of this statewide effort to support young children. It will take every-one in Sharp County to realize the goal of all children reaching their full potential and reading at grade level by the end of the third grade. We challenge our neighbors to make our goal your own. More early readers equals more graduates which equals a more prosperous Sharp County and a better quality of life for all. You can read more about Arkansas Community Foundation and work in Early Literacy across the state in the most recent edition of Engage magazine avail-able in print and at arcf.org/our-impact, or con-tact the Sharp County affiliate by visiting arcf.org/sharpcounty. Additionally, as the school year ends and summer begins, now is the time to take advantage of the local summer reading programs in Sharp County:· Ash Flat Library: sign-up June 1 – June 9and the program is June12 – July 31 (870-994-2658)· Cave City Library: begins June 1· Evening Shade Library: starts June 1 and is 11am-12pm every Thursday in June· Sharp County Library in Hardy: registration begins May 15 and the program runs June1 – July 28· For Every Dog Res-cue provides time for children to come read to the puppies and dogs in their care 870-955-0185.