Arts-based Community Development Investment for Promise Zone

The Kentucky Promise Zone one of 69 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town projects selected nationwide


BEREA, Ky. – National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the Our Town program’s fifth year of funding.  Partners for Education at Berea College is one of those recommended organizations and will receive $100,000 to preserve the arts and cultural heritage of Appalachia by cataloguing arts and artists in the Kentucky Promise Zone. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

“Creative Asset Mapping in the Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone,” brings together seven county governments, Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, and Whitley, and Berea College, a non-profit with significant arts experience. The project will map Promise Zone arts and artists based on research and best practices gained from other rural communities. Within the Promise Zone, the arts are a key opportunity for economic diversification. Creative Asset Mapping is the first step in the Promise Zone exploration of the arts as a strategy for positively impacting the livability within the Promise Zone.

Other partners include the Kentucky Arts Council, Arts Incubator of the Rockies (AIR), and the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, the Promise Zone lead agent.

“Creative Asset Mapping in the Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone demonstrates the best in creative community development and the work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chairman Chu. “Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike.”

Donna Morgan, director of Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College, says the selection of the Kentucky Promise Zone can both help preserve arts and culture in Appalachia and provide an avenue for community development. “Creative and arts businesses can form an important sector in our region’s economy, whether it be through traditional arts and crafts, design, digital media, culinary arts, or other fields that employ a creative workforce,” she said. “We are so pleased to be able to begin the planning of this project, and we are even more excited to start the work of putting our artists and their creativity on the map.”

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.

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Kentucky Receives $3.7 Million in Service Grants

Funding will help meet critical state, local needs 


Commonwealth of Kentucky

Office of the Governor

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 30, 2015) – Governor Steve Beshear announced that Kentucky has received more than $3.7 million in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for 12 programs.

Programs receiving funding include Teach for America-Kentucky in Hazard, Operation UNITE in Prestonsburg and Disaster Services Corps in Owensboro.

Some of the grants are for programs in eastern Kentucky communities that are part of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative, and the awards will complement other AmeriCorps activities in the region.

“The Commonwealth sees great rewards from national service,” Gov. Beshear said. “AmeriCorps fills pressing social needs and makes our communities stronger. Members gain leadership skills and career experience. We value AmeriCorps partnerships and congratulate the programs that have received grant funding.”

Gov. Beshear said that including additional local funding and educational grants, AmeriCorps programs will result in a $12.6 million investment in Kentucky.

“AmeriCorps is enriching both communities and individuals through specific service programs and education grants,” he said. “Kentucky AmeriCorps is making an extraordinary impact on the future of our citizens’ well-being.”

The 2015 AmeriCorps grant cycle was highly competitive due to the strong demand by organizations competing for AmeriCorps resources. The national competition prioritized investments in economic opportunity, education, veterans and military families, disaster services and an initiative for governors and mayors. Kentucky programs receiving grants will focus on several initiatives, including education, mentoring for college readiness and providing in-home services and support to senior citizens.

AmeriCorps is a national service program administered by the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS), part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the federal Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). AmeriCorps members serve faith-based and nonprofit organizations with critical educational, environmental and safety needs. Grant recipients include programs dedicated to efforts such as teaching and tutoring children, combating homelessness, providing drug resistance education and empowering victims of domestic violence.

KCCVS Executive Director Joe Bringardner said he is proud of Kentucky programs’ showing among the national grant awardees.

“These programs have distinct goals to help educate youth, provide comfort to seniors and rebuild families’ lives by building homes,” he said. “Our AmeriCorps members use their talents, their vision and their boundless energy to establish immediate and long-lasting change in Kentucky.”

Kentucky received $1.8 million in national competitive grant funding and received an additional $1.9 million in formula grant funds, awarded based on state population. With these funds, the KCCVS awarded grants to six additional AmeriCorps programs in nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the Commonwealth. The law creating AmeriCorps gave a key role to states in determining how national service resources are used and promoting service and volunteering to meet specific community needs. 
AmeriCorps programs are also contributing a total of $3.2 million in local funding matches, money from the private sector, foundations, community partnerships and other sources.

In addition to the grant funding, CNCS will make available $1.9 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants. After completing a full term of service, AmeriCorps members are eligible for an education award equal to the Pell grant – currently $5,730 – that can be used to repay student loans or cover tuition costs.

Bringardner said AmeriCorps can clear a path to higher education for many Kentuckians. “Kentucky AmeriCorps provides millions of dollars for college,” he said. “It gives members a way to move toward a degree and gain specialized skills while they serve their communities.”

Since 1994, more than 9,400 Kentucky residents have served more than 14 million hours and have received education awards totaling more than $32.5 million. During the 2013-14 program year, AmeriCorps members recruited 13,235 volunteers who provided more than 92,200 hours of service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its citizens.

Competitive grants are awarded nationally for fixed time periods for specific projects and costs. Formula grants are awarded by the bipartisan KCCVS commission. The KCCVS received formula grant requests for more than $3 million, but only had $1.9 million funding available.

Grants were awarded to the programs listed below.

Sponsor: Barren County School Board (Glasgow)
CNCS Grant: $600,345 (funded by formula grant)
Local Match: $491,191
Member Positions: 50
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $286,500

Members serve elementary through high school students in partnership with supportive schools and involved communities to provide tutoring and mentoring assistance to aid in the prevention of student dropouts and support post-secondary education and workforce readiness.


Disaster Services Corps
Sponsor: Green River Area Development District (Owensboro)
CNCS Grant: $103,600 (funded by formula grant)
Local Match: $42,000
Member Positions: Eight
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $45,840

Members leverage volunteers and educate the community about disaster preparedness. Members are trained as disaster responders and initiate the development of disaster kits.


Economic Empowerment Corps
Sponsor: Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Frankfort)
CNCS Grant: $135,850 (funded by competitive grant)
Local Match: $196,850
Member Positions: 11
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $63,030

Economic Empowerment Corps is a statewide program in which members serve as economic empowerment specialists, volunteer and community outreach specialists and youth programming specialists serving those who are survivors of domestic violence.


Sponsor: Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (Shelbyville)
CNCS Grant: $439,446 (funded by competitive grant)
Local Match: $549,763
Member Positions: 30
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $217,367

FRYSC Corps Members, serving under the supervision of Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) coordinators, provide reading tutoring for academically at-risk students in Central Kentucky.


Homes for All (formerly Build Corps)
Sponsor: Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky (Frankfort)
CNCS Grant: $499,090 (funded by formula grant)
Local Match: $562,803
Member Positions: 37
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $212,010

Build Corps is a statewide program in which members impact their communities through homelessness prevention, housing placement services, and low-income housing construction and repair.


Kentucky College Coaches
Sponsor: Northern Kentucky University Research Foundation (Highland Heights)
CNCS Grant: $210,438 (funded by formula grant)
Local Match: $140,292
Member Positions: 18
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $103,140

Kentucky College Coaches members serve as college coaches in statewide program designed to increase the number of low-income and underserved students who graduate from high school, enroll in postsecondary institutions and earn a college degree.


Sponsor: Morehead State University (Morehead)
CNCS Grant: $379,035 (funded by competitive grant)
Local Match: $636,280
Member Positions: 30
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $171,900

MSU Corps members provide reading tutoring for academically at-risk students utilizing the “Great Leaps” reading curriculum and recruit and train community volunteers to be reading tutors. Members develop and demonstrate skills in tutoring, civic engagement and volunteer recruitment in Eastern Kentucky.


PartnerCorps STEM
Sponsor: Berea College (Berea)
CNCS Grant: $266,000 (funded by competitive grant)
Local Match: $160,295
Member Positions: 20
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $114,600

PartnerCorps STEM members will provide tutoring and homework assistance in algebra while connecting mathematics to STEM career pathways, resulting in improved academic results in mathematics. The program will serve three rural high schools in Madison County.


Sponsor: Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville)
CNCS Grant: $233,100 (funded by formula grant)
Local Match: $71,000
Member Positions: 18
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $103,140

REACH Corps members serve in elementary and middle schools’ Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC) to assist students who are showing signs of chronic absenteeism as well as providing assistance to families who are facing multiple economic, educational and health challenges that have an impact on a student’s success in school.


Senior Connections
Sponsor: Green River Area Development District (Owensboro)
CNCS Grant: $284,900 (funded by formula grant)
Local Match: $115,500
Member Positions: 22
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $126,060

Members provide in-home services, site based services, transportation services and social support to seniors and individuals with disabilities for the purpose of preventing unnecessary hospitalizations for Medicare recipients. Members are trained in disaster response and assist in local service projects.


Teach for America-Kentucky
Sponsor: Teach For America (Hazard)
CNCS Grant: $36,800 (funded by competitive grant)
Local Match: $14,609
Member Positions: 46 (Education Award Program)
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $263,580

Teach for America-Kentucky members will serve as classroom teachers in low-income rural schools resulting in improved educational outcomes for students. The program will serve schools in the central Appalachian school districts in southeastern Kentucky.


UNITE Service Corps
Sponsor: Operation UNITE (Prestonsburg)
CNCS Grant: $543,400 (funded by competitive grant)
Local Match: $242,000
Member Positions: 44
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $252,120

UNITE Service Corps members provide math tutoring and drug abuse prevention education for at-risk students. Members serve as drug education coordinators within their service site schools in Eastern Kentucky.

For more information about Kentucky’s AmeriCorps programs, call the KCCVS toll-free at 800-239-7404 or visit the KCCVS website.