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Writing New Chapters: ACCESS Unveils $250,000 Challenge Grant, Igniting Starry Starry Night Planning Committee for Success

Photography By Lacey Duncan Photography

25th Annual Starry Starry Night Committee (left to right): Sarah Bemberg, Carrie Scott, Alison Caballero, Chris Marsh, Ashley Jones, Lucy Whiteside, Jonathan Parkey
Not Pictured: Sarah Baxter, Whitney Parfitt, Mandy Wright

A successful story is made up of many chapters, and the chapters that shape every individual are all uniquely written. For individuals with special needs, those chapters aren’t always easy to write. That’s where ACCESS comes in, helping individuals with learning challenges and developmental disabilities during the chapters they need support most through evaluation services, full-time education, therapy, mental health services, vocational training, community integration and more.

Starry Starry Night: The 25th Chapter, presented by Bank OZK, is ACCESS’s largest fundraiser of the year. The event boasts silent and live auctions, donation appeal, cocktails, dinner, entertainment, and more, all while sharing with more than 250 guests the impact made by the organization in our local community. However, this year’s event has the opportunity to make the biggest difference yet to write the stories of success.

On this milestone year, the Starry Starry Night planning committee is excited to share that ACCESS has received a significant challenge grant opportunity in the amount of $250,000. Every dollar raised through the date of the event on Saturday, October 28, 2023 will be matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling the impact supporters will make toward helping ACCESS serve its mission of expanding individual potential through innovative instruction to more than 900 clients every year.

"ACCESS is incredibly grateful for this extraordinary challenge grant," said Tammy Simmons, Executive Director at ACCESS. "It's a testament to the dedication and compassion of our supporters who understand the vital importance of the work we do. This grant will enable us to make an even more significant difference in the lives of those we serve."

Funds raised through this challenge grant will help support ACCESS through individual initiatives such as: the ongoing repair of tornado damage to the Stella Boyle Smith Early Childhood campus; new recreational, social, and therapy spaces such as a renewed outdoor tennis and play space and multiple sensory spaces; ACCESS Tuition Assistance Fund to help ACCESS Academy students receive the individualized special education they deserve no matter their family’s financial ability; and growing recreational opportunities for adults with special needs in order to empower inclusion within our community.

"ACCESS helps parents navigate their way through whatever their child might need in an effort to have children succeed in education and in life,” explained Ashley Jones, Starry Starry Night committee member and ACCESS parent. “You might not have a child who is in need of services, but I would bet you know someone’s child who is. By supporting ACCESS through this challenge grant, you can be the voice they didn’t know they needed.”

Supporters may contribute toward the challenge grant any time between now and the close of the event on October 28, 2023, by making a donation on the ACCESS website. To discuss additional opportunities for support, contact Kellie Wilhite, ACCESS Director of Development, 501.217.8600. To learn more about the 25th Annual Starry Starry Night event, visit the event webpage.