The community of Conway believes education is a cornerstone of their economy, being home to three higher education institutions (Central Baptist College, Hendrix College and the University of Central Arkansas). The Conway Area Chamber of Commerceﾒs strategic plan includes a vision to ﾓKeep Conway Learning.ﾔ Traditionally chambers of commerce focus on the current workforce and increasing the percentage of high school and college graduates. The Conway Chamber expanded its approach to include the next generationﾒs workforce.
Proceeds from an annual festival in Conway have been used to provide college scholarships to local high school graduates since it began in 1985. In 2012, money raised from the festival began supporting early childhood education through the efforts of Arkansas Preschool Plus, in addition to college scholarships.
Arkansas Preschool Plus received $35,000 from the effort in 2017. Arkansas Preschool Plus provides child care centers in the Conway area with training, materials and other support. Started as a pilot with five centers in 2012, Preschool Plus is now working with 24 centers as a reliable resource for specialized, on-site training. Since nearly all of the child care centers in the Conway area are small businesses, Preschool Plus offers the training during lunch breaks or after hours to minimize the time teachers are out of the classroom. Preschool Plus also helps centers improve the quality of the care they provide and increase their rating through the stateﾒs Better Beginning quality rating system.