Education, Business, and Community Leaders in Knox County Gathered for GradNation Community Summit

Knox County Summit One of 100 Nationwide that Will Examine Challenges and Solutions for Raising High School Graduation Rates and Preparing All Young People for Success

Kentucky’s First Lady Gave Keynote Address


“Success is an attainable goal for every student, and the community plays an important role in helping students succeed,” according to Kelli Moore, project director for the Berea College Knox County Full-Service Community Schools Program.   That was the message of the Knox County GradNation Community Summit, which bought together community members to support their fundamental role in empowering students to achieve educational success.  The Summit, hosted on June 15 at Lynn Camp Middle /High School in Corbin, included remarks by Kentucky’s First Lady, Jane Beshear, and Hasan Davis, former commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice.  The event was one of only two rural summits to be held in the United States this year.


The Knox County GradNation Community Summit is part of the national GradNation campaign through America’s Promise Alliance that seeks to raise the United States’ graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. The current national graduation rate is 81.4 percent. The GradNation campaign has been building on 105 dropout prevention summits happening across the country to raise awareness and inspire action. The 2015 Building a Grad Nation report found that for the third year in a row the country is on track to meet the goal of a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020.   The national on-time graduation rate now stands at 81.4 percent.  In Knox County, 88 percent of students graduated from high school.  The graduation rate for Kentucky is 87.5 percent, which puts Kentucky on pace to meet the 90 percent goal.

Research has shown that when young people have access to more of the essential academic, health and life resources, what America’s Promise calls the “Five Promises” – caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others – the more likely they are to succeed academically and socially. Summit attendees discussed how Knox County can better align programs supporting youth around these Five Promises.


“The progress we are seeing toward the national goal of raising graduation rates is based on communities coming together to support and insist on better outcomes for young people,”  said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “Summits like the event in Knox County are rallying points for communities.  America’s Promise is delighted to support this effort and work with the leaders in Knox County and communities across the country to help advance this campaign.”

The Knox County GradNation Community Summit focused on place-based solutions to the barriers students face in graduating from high school. The program highlight was the powerful and moving role Knox County students played as they lead participants to understand the challenges some students face in furthering their education.

“I am proud of the fact that this is not an ‘educational’ summit, but a community summit that involves a broad cross-section of the community: non-profits, faith-based groups, businesses, educational institutions and community leaders,” added Moore.

The premier sponsor of the national GradNation Community Summits initiative is AT&T, whose support is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million commitment to graduate more students from high school ready for college and career.  The other national sponsors include Southwest Airlines. To learn more about GradNation visit

To see more photographs of the event visit


About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance leads more than 400 organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. As its signature effort, the GradNation campaign mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the 21st century workforce.

Corporation for National & Community Service CEO Visits Berea


Corporation for National and Community Service Chief Executive Officer Wendy Spencer visited Partners for Education at Berea College Wednesday to learn first-hand how CNCS programs are working to help Appalachian Kentucky youth succeed in school. Representatives from AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA programs administered by Berea College introduced themselves to Spencer and talked about how the programs serve their communities. Representatives from partnering organizations, like Save the Children, Grow Appalachia, and Knox, Leslie, and Madison County Schools also spoke with Spencer about the difference the programs are making in thousands of lives.

05_Group_ShotWhen she had heard from everyone, Spencer told attendees about a recent CNCS study that found that service and volunteering can have on employment, that job applicants who have service or volunteering experiences are significantly more like to find a job after being out of work, 55% more likely in rural areas. “There is a direct correlation now that we can prove scientifically, that it’s going to help you personally,” she said. “That’s not to mention that it would mean more hands and hearts in our communities helping people in need.”

Spencer closed by thanking everyone for their comments and for doing the work they do. “I’m really inspired today to hear the connection that you’ve applied, for national service and volunteerism, to your own communities and how you’re lifting it up.”

For more information about CNCS, visit them here. To see more photos from the visit, check out the image gallery here.