Regional Stewardship Center Funds Five Community-Based Projects

Because Eastern Kentucky University CARES:

·         The history behind a largely forgotten African American cemetery near Junction City is being uncovered.

·         Plans for a railroad museum for Corbin are taking shape.

·         Entrepreneurial projects involving young professionals in Hazard will advance downtown revitalization efforts in the Perry County seat.

·         Non-violent drug offenders in Estill County will receive ongoing job and career training from EKU, and a teleworking hub will be expanded.

·         Child care providers throughout the region will receive tax planning information and support.

Each of the five community-based projects recently received a $10,000 grant from CARES (the acronym for EKU’s Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship). By design, all the initiatives include partners at EKU and focus on one or more of the five following areas: economic and workforce development, education, environment, collaborative government, and health, wellness and safety. None of the grant funds can be used to cover construction costs.

“We are pleased to announce these five grant awards from CARES in support of our ongoing stewardship efforts at EKU to link communities with our greatest resource: faculty, staff and students,” said CARES Director Ian Mooers, also executive director of the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) at EKU. “We had 26 proposals from across the EKU service region that were very worthy of our funding, and we appreciate the hard work that went into preparing each one. I want to thank our internal and external grant reviewers who gave valuable time to carefully consider each application.”

A synopsis of each grant-awarded community project follows:

Shelby City African American Cemetery – Since work began on the historic cemetery near Junction City last year, more than 150 graves, many of them marking the burial spaces of people who were born into slavery, have been identified. (Ground-penetrating radar services donated by Cultural Resource Analysts Inc. may soon reveal many more.) The grant will allow volunteers (students and faculty) from the EKU Danville Campus as well as alumni and community members to continue their cleanup and restoration efforts. Specifically, the grant will fund a historical marker and additional signage, brochures to publicize the cemetery as a historic site, a cemetery resource guide (to be developed by a student worker) with lesson plans for area teachers, and transportation for site visits/work days by archaeology classes. Already, the cemetery has benefited from approximately 600 volunteer hours.

Corbin Rail Museum – A partnership between the EKU College of Arts and Sciences (Dr. Stephanie McSpirit, Sociology) and the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission, the project will pair an EKU senior sociology student with a Corbin tourism official to develop a railroad museum for the southeastern Kentucky community. It is hoped the museum will open in 2015.

InVision Hazard – The partnership between the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky in Hazard and EKU Geography Professor Dr. Alice Jones will advance InVision Hazard. The goal of the citizen-led downtown revitalization initiative is to create and sustain a community-based leadership training program that will engage young professionals (ages 18-25) in Hazard to yield three small-scale community improvement projects and one large-scale capstone service project involving EKU students.

WestCare Workforce Development – The partnership between the EKU Center for Career and Workforce Development and WestCare Kentucky, which operates a day-release program in Estill County, will provide non-violent drug offenders an opportunity to participate in a substance abuse program. The major goal of the project is to develop a teleworking hub with Teleworks USA in Estill County for the day-release participants; the grant will fund the installation of work stations for telecommuters and provide ongoing job and career training from EKU.

“Financial Literacy for All” – This partnership between the EKU College of Business and Technology and the Eastern Kentucky Child Care Coalition will increase financial literacy and economic resource assistance available to child care providers throughout the Coalition and the EKU service region, which essentially overlap. Child care providers in the Coalition will receive tax planning information and support from qualified EKU faculty and students under the supervision of Dr. Patricia Isaacs. Also, Coalition providers will receive expanded training in a curriculum to provide financial literacy education to children in their care and education setting and to offer support to families.

The community grant programs function on a reimbursement basis, with cost-share required. Grantees must first spend their own funds, in line with an approved budget, and then submit documentation of expenses to CARES to receive reimbursement.

Activities within the following counties were eligible for the grants: Bell, Boyle, Casey, Clay, Estill, Garrard, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Wayne and Whitley.

The EKU Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship was established to provide a unified, comprehensive approach to stewardship and engagement that focuses on the five areas identified by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education: economic and workforce development, education, environment, collaborative government, and health, wellness and safety.

CARES encompasses the Center for Appalachian Studies, the Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship Program, Service Learning, PRISM: A Journal of Regional Engagement, the Kentucky Institute for Public Governance and Civic Engagement, the Office of Regional Stewardship and the Regional Extension Agent Program. It is housed in EKU’s Office of University Programs.

For more information about how CARES can assist with community needs, contact Mooers at 859-622-2334 or ian.mooers@eku.edu or Karrie Adkins at 859-622-6168 or karrie.adkins@eku.edu, or visit regionalstewardship.eku.edu/eku-cares.

Published on June 02, 2014