Books, puppies and a whole mess of chocolate are all in this month's snapshot of the news worth noting in Little Rock nonprofits.

GETTING SCHOOLED

It's been a tumultuous year for schools in the Little Rock metro, but some education nonprofits are ending 2019 on a high note.

AR Kids Read, an organization that provides weekly one-on-one literacy intervention to students, recently received a $24,425 grant to expand its mission. The grant will allow the volunteer-based program to give away more than 4,000 books through community events like Tendaji, CDC’s Lights On After School and AR Kids Read's tutoring program, according to executive director Dionne Jackson.

AR Kids Read

Funding came from First Book as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation program that helps provide 1.5 million new books to kids in low-income communities across the country.

"We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success," says Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO and co-founder of First Book. "Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and Arkansas are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation."

But kids aren't the only ones getting a helping hand. The Pulaski County and Arkansas branches of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund are joining forces to meet new goals in providing higher education funds for single parents. According to organizers, this merger will allow the nonprofit to serve more single parents in more ways, continuing its mission to create stronger, more educated and more self-sufficient families.

By combining the best practices and brightest ideas from both organizations, the nonprofit has plans to quadruple the number of single parents served by 2025.

BIG MOVES

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families named Melvin Clayton as its first-ever race equity director for advocacy.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families named Melvin Clayton as its first-ever race equity director for advocacy.

Natalie Clark and Hanna French of Ozark Mission Project in Little Rock.

The Ozark Mission Project of Little Rock added two new team members: Natalie Clark as marketing and development coordinator and Hanna French as director of programs and communications.

"THE NUTCRACKER SPECTACULAR" IS HERE

Ballet Arkansas will present four public performances of its beloved holiday production of “The Nutcracker Spectacular” at the Robinson Center Dec. 13-15.

“With live music from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Episcopal Collegiate Choirs and Mount St. Mary’s Concert Belles, the cast features the talents of more than 200 local children and adults performing alongside the 15 professional dancers of Ballet Arkansas,” executive and artistic director Michael Fothergill says.

Now in its 41st year, the production has touched the lives of countless Arkansans and continues to provide performance opportunities for children from all areas of the state.

“A number of dance educators throughout the state have, at one point or another, performed in this Ballet Arkansas production. Now their students are a part, and I’d say that’s a meaningful definition of full-circle,” Fothergill says. “Some cast members drive nearly six hours round-trip each weekend to rehearse for the performances. We want to celebrate their dedication and the dedication of our community for keeping Ballet Arkansas alive through the performance of this holiday classic for more than four decades.”

Ballet Arkansas also has big plans to renovate the production and make it more accessible to communities across the state.

“We’ve had such overwhelming pull to expand the reach of our production and the organization is preparing to take the leap,” Fothergill says. “There’s no better way to celebrate the holidays than to further the reach of the state’s foremost professional ballet company. We hope families will make us part of their holiday traditions and will come out and celebrate the efforts of all in our community cast.”

SAVE THE DATES

Pawhibition
Dec. 31

Channel the roaring '20s as you dance the night away to ring in 2020 and raise funds for Arkansans Assisting Homeless Animals.


Chocolate Fantasy Ball
Feb. 8

Time to test your sweet tooth at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas gala featuring the state's best chocolates.


Woman of the Year
Feb. 15

Arkansas Children’s President and CEO Marcy Doderer will be honored as the 2020 Woman of the Year at this annual gala for Women & Children First: The Center Against Family Violence.

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