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Eastern Kentucky University’s Office of Regional Stewardship has received a grant to fund “good news” stories about the people and places of Kentucky’s Promise Zone. High school students from the eight-county region will be finding and writing the stories, as well as providing photos.

Students from EKU’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) will help to implement the project by guiding the high school students through the process.

The Promise Zone encompasses Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher and Perry counties, and a portion of Whitley County.

The Promise Zone Profiles project meshes with other ongoing work within EKU’s service region that is supported by the Office of Regional Stewardship. EKU student-driven work is also integral to Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, East Kentucky Leadership Foundation and several other eastern Kentucky programs and entities.

McFaddin photo“This is one of many examples of how EKU is engaging and serving the people of our region,” said David McFaddin, executive director of government relations at EKU. “This project profiles each of the core areas that a regional comprehensive university like EKU excels at. We are connecting our students to Kentucky’s Appalachian counties, where they are producing work that elevates the status of the region we serve. The student-produced work assists those partners who need the service and strengthens the portfolios of our future graduates who will, in turn, have a better understanding of Kentucky’s Appalachian region and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

The Promise Zone Profiles project will also encourage high school students to engage with their communities in a unique way, creating an opportunity for young people and adults to network and collaborate with the common goal of promoting their region.  The profiles will feature people, businesses, civic organizations and community movements, giving local students a platform to shape their own story of the region. They will also inspire others to further spread a vision of hope.

“We are a resilient people, and resilient people honor their culture and history while embracing a new diversified future,” Promise Zone Coordinator Sandi Curd said.  “Promise Zone profiles documents exactly that.”

This project will also serve as a link between Promise Zone high schools and the University, through collaborations with the Office of Regional Stewardship and EKU public relations students.

"The public relations program and PRSSA has always embraced any opportunity to work with the Office of Regional Stewardship and SOAR," said Dr. Pam Parry, interim chair of the Department of Communication and faculty adviser to EKU's chapter of PRSSA. "We have had several successful collaborations to date, and we are really excited about this new chapter and what it means for our students and our region. The Promise Zone holds true to its name."

This project is funded by an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Flex-E-Grant through the Kentucky Department for Local Government and administered by Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College. Flex-E-Grant funds are made available to economically distressed ARC counties in Kentucky for projects that build local capacity.

Inset photo: Dr. David McFaddin