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2014 ABEA Salute to Arkansas Scholars

4 min read

The Arkansas Business & Education Alliance (ABEA) is a non-profit organization that was established in 1991 by a group of visionary business leaders who were focused on improving education in the state of Arkansas. Hillary Clinton, Bill Fisher, Don Munro and Archie Schaffer III were the original board members of its predecessor — The Arkansas Business Council. Their efforts at that time were the building blocks to the foundation of what ABEA is today. The partnerships with local chambers of commerce and school districts across the state have made it possible for business and community leaders to help encourage and impact student performance and achievement in a positive way.

The Arkansas Business & Education Alliance works to promote business involvement in schools and to encourage academic achievement among students.

ABEA’s primary program for students and communities is called Arkansas Scholars. The program is presented by local business leaders across the state who serve as examples of what academic achievement will do for an individual if he/she will avail themselves in the classroom. It asks the students to make the most of their last four years of high school to ensure a positive future. Arkansas Scholars prepares students for education beyond high school, the workforce and/or the military which ultimately impacts the effort of increasing the number of Arkansans holding a college degree, which is one of Governor Mike Beebe’s educational initiatives for the state.

Now in its 23rd year, the mission of ABEA continues in the effort to promote Arkansas Scholars, the organization’s signature program, which targets eighth grade students across the state. The objective of Arkansas Scholars is to encourage and motivate students to take the “SMART CORE” curriculum during their four years of high school and make a “C” or better semester grade in all courses throughout the four years, maintain a 95 percent attendance record and graduate on time in eight consecutive semesters.

ABEA, along with corporate sponsors, recognizes and celebrates the accomplishment of the graduating seniors each year. Since the program began in the mid 1990s, there are more than 80 schools participating. Since implementation, thousands of students have graduated, achieving the distinction of being an Arkansas Scholar, and many of them completed college and are now productive contributors in the business and education sectors.

The Arkansas Business & Education Alliance Board of Directors salutes the visionary leaders who led the efforts to change the face of education in Arkansas. We stand on their shoulders as the organization continues the valuable partnerships with the many chambers of commerce across the state who have “stepped up to the plate” with their commitment to increase the number of Arkansas Scholars.

Thank you to all participating chambers of commerce and local area school districts for being outstanding partners in this effort.

A very special thank you is extended to the 2014 corporate and business Arkansas Scholars ad sponsors.


Change the future for students in your area.

There is a great value to communities who implement the Arkansas Scholars program. Economic development prospects look for a strong pipeline of educated workforce candidates. By helping students in your local school district to achieve, you help them as well as your local community to have a brighter future.

Arkansas Scholars™ is a program that gives high school students good reasons to perform well in class. Students are asked to meet a set of criteria that will prepare them for both the workplace and post-high school education. The program is centered on academic achievement for a broad range of students.

The following criteria must be met in order to be recognized as an Arkansas Scholar:

1. Earn semester grades of “C” or above in all courses.

2. Achieve a 95 percent or better attendance record (average over four years).

3. Complete the recommended courses to graduate from high school and to prepare for post secondary education, including:

• English. Four units (I, II, III, and IV)

• Science. Three units (from biology, chemistry, physics, and physical science, lab based).

• Mathematics. Four units (algebra I, geometry, algebra II and an advanced math course)

• Social studies. Three units (to include world history, U.S. history, civics/government)

• Complete the balance of state mandated high school graduation requirements.

4. Finish high school in eight consecutive semesters.

Arkansas Scholars is making a difference. More students are taking advanced courses and school attendance by participating students has improved. The subtle results from Arkansas Scholars are even more significant. A large percentage of “average” students begin to see themselves in a different light. Academic achievement is no longer the exclusive domain of the top students. Further, by taking more challenging courses and working to make acceptable grades, these teenagers are in a better position to consider college or technical training after high school.

The key to success for this program is cooperation. Business and education leaders work together to deliver a clear, effective message to students. Local chambers of commerce provide the energy and coordination to get it all done. Stronger ties develop between the business community and schools as a result of this experience.

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