Partners for Education at Berea College


    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • A new after-school program, funded by the Promise Neighborhood Initiative, is scheduled to begin in Jackson County on October 15. Registration forms and materials about the programs have been sent home with students over the last two weeks. The new after-school program is open to all students at Jackson County Middle and High School and students in third through fifth grade at McKee, Tyner and Sand Gap elementary schools. Students will get help in school subjects such as math, science, language arts and social studies. They can also receive instruction in enrichment subjects not normally taught in schools, like martial arts, robotics and humanities through the use of drama.


      “With schools continually facing budget cuts, there are fewer academic support or enrichment opportunities for students,” said Erin Connor, Associate Director of School-Based Services for Berea College Promise Neighborhood. “With the new district-wide after-school program, we are excited to be able to provide opportunities for extra academic support, combined with experiences with the arts. We hope to offer a lot of fun and educational experiences that students don’t get during the regular school day.”


      Not only does this after-school program offer these new opportunities for students, but it also provides bus transportation after the program each day and a chance for kids to enjoy physical activity and a healthy snack.  Participation in the program is free of charge. To register, students must commit to participating fully until the December break.



    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • Parents and kindergarteners came out to a picnic at Paces Creek Elementary School September 25 to learn about the importance of school attendance during elementary school.  Kelly Brown, Berea College Promise Neighborhood Academic Specialist for Paces Creek, told the parents, “It’s important to start with kindergarten, since kindergarteners have the most absences in the school.” She offered tips for good attendance, including keeping children on a regular routine—especially bedtime, packing book bags and picking out clothes the night before, and talking to teachers or administrators if students are anxious about going to school.



    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • On Friday September 28, more than 300 eighth-grade students from Southern Middle School braved the rain to graduate from middle school to college for a day on campus at Somerset Community College (SCC). The event was part of a two-week college exploration experience for all Pulaski County eighth grade students.



    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • Berea College’s Office of Externally Sponsored Programs hosted visitors from the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday, September 20.  Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, and Greg Darnieder, Special Assistant to the Secretary on College Access, came to Kentucky as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s third annual back-to-school bus tour.  The representatives came to Berea College to observe the impact of nine federally funded college access programs the college operates in the region.


      Jim Shelton talks with Clay County High School students.

      The tour included visits with students, teachers and administrators in Breathitt, Clay, Laurel and Perry counties.  In Clay County, Shelton and Darnieder participated in a roundtable discussion with Berea College partner agencies and grant staff including Clay County Schools, AdvanceKY, the Elgin Foundation, Save the Children, Educational Talent Search, GEAR UP, i3, and Promise Neighborhood.  Topics ranged from Advanced Placement courses and using data like grades and attendance statistics to forming plans to improve high school graduation rates and college success for students.


      On Friday, Darnieder visited Hazard Community and Technical College to conference with representatives from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and Berea College’s GEAR UP and Promise Neighborhood programs.  They discussed lifting student aspirations, the cost of college, student and parent surveys, and early warning systems that indicate when students might be in danger of falling behind.


      Greg Darnieder talks with members of the Laurel County Youth Leadership Council.

      Darnieder traveled to South Laurel Middle School in Laurel County to meet with students and parents who had taken part in Families and Schools Together, a parent engagement program that brings parents and schools closer while working toward academic success for children.  Darnieder also met the Laurel County Youth Leadership Council, students who demonstrated an interest in leadership through service.

      Darnieder also sat down to dinner with college students who are recent graduates of Berea College’s Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math and Science programs.  The students described the impact the programs had on them.  “Upward Bound is definitely why I’m here,” said Jonathan Powell, of his first year at Berea College.  Christina Benedict, also a freshman at Berea, explained that her experience with Upward Bound inspired her to work with Berea College’s GEAR UP program as a mentor to 8th graders at Berea Community School.


      The Department of Education representatives traveled across the country from September 12-21 to deliver the message that “Education Drives America.”  Other stops included California, Kansas, Indiana, West Virginia, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.


    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • Students from Clay and Owsley counties arrive at EKU’s Manchester campus.

      Eastern Kentucky University’s Manchester campus hosted more than four hundred middle-schoolers from Clay and Owsley counties Thursday for a question and answer session with college athletes.  The “Colonels for Education” event was a collaboration between Berea College’s GEAR UP program, Eastern Kentucky University, and Clay and Owsley Counties’ school districts.



    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • Corbin, KY— Five thousand eighth-graders from Appalachian Kentucky gathered Wednesday to officially kick off the Berea College GEAR UP CFES Scholars program.  The two-hour event included talks from Lyle Roelofs, Berea College President, and Hasan Davis, Commissioner of the of Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, as well as musical performances by Chad Warrix of Halfway to Hazard, the Hall Pass Tour, a hip-hop and R&B group from New York, and Perry County eighth-grader Kennedy Bailey.


      Warrix was the first in his family to attend college and he told students “college prepares you. High school is not enough anymore, guys. It used to be, but things are changing rapidly and you have to be prepared…so you can have a chance of getting a great job. ” Warrix volunteers his time to visit schools in Kentucky as part of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Stars Over Appalachia program, working to encourage students to stay in school and go to college.  After the event, Kennedy Bailey shared her thoughts on why the event is important. “GEAR UP is about getting you ready to get up and do your best in whatever you do,” she said, “whether it’s performing or applying to college or just being in middle school.”


      The Hall Pass Tour, based out of New York City, engaged students with a high-energy hip-hop and R&B show focused on building their dreams.  “On the Hall Pass Tour, we have a motto,” said headlining singer j.Renee, as she introduced a duet with co-headliner ScienZe.  “We say that, ‘Team work makes the dream work.’”  The pair emphasized the point further by explaining that the song “Dreamwork” was developed collaboratively with a student.


      The Hall Pass Tour also auditions and selects students to perform as part of their shows. Bailey, an eighth-grade student from Hazard, KY, rehearsed with the group and joined them onstage to open the show.  “GEAR UP is about getting you ready to get up and do your best in whatever you do,” Bailey explained, “whether it’s performing or applying to college or just being in middle school.”


      The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice was a key partner in the event, which aimed to increase high school graduation rates and college-going rates in southeastern Kentucky.  Commissioner Davis took the stage last, to put the messages from college presidents and motivational musicians in perspective.  “A lot of people wonder, ‘Why does the commissioner of Juvenile Justice, a guy who locks kids up, want to be here talking to you today?’” he said.  “What we know is that young people who get an education are much less likely to come into the prison system.  And we want you to do great things like all these people have talked about, not coming through our system.”  He said that it might be tempting for students to think that the people on stage did not have the same challenges they did, but everyone struggles to be the greatest they can be.  “You can do the same,” he said.  “You have the ability.  It’s time for you to get geared up.”

      Davis closed the event by reminding students that they are Berea College CFES Scholars and they are expected to graduate high school and attend college.  He then led the students in chanting, “I commit not to quit!” Davis shared with students that Berea College and CFES will bring them back together in the spring of 2017 to celebrate their high school graduation and college acceptance.


      GEAR UP is a U.S. Department of Education college readiness program and the Berea College program works in seventeen Kentucky counties.  The goal of the Berea College GEAR UP program is to increase high school graduation and college-going rates in these counties. Dreama Gentry, of Berea College, explains “Without interventions like our Berea CFES Scholars program, more than 1,000 of these 5,000 8th graders will drop out of high school, and less than 2,200 of these students will go on to college.  It is critical to the economic success of our region that we increase the number of students who graduate from high school and attend college.”


      The event was a partnership between Berea College, College for Every Student (CFES), and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. CFES is a nonprofit organization with a national network of K-12 Scholars that commit to academic success, high school graduation and college-going.   The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame sponsors the Stars Over Appalachia program, which connects artists like Warrix to educational programs across Kentucky.


    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • The Berea College Promise Neighborhood Initiative will hold a Homecoming Open House on September 1st from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jackson County Promise Neighborhood office on Highway 290, across from Jackson County Bank.  In the two hours leading up to the Homecoming parade, visitors from the Jackson County community can meet their county’s Promise Neighborhood staff and pick up informational flyers about the programs and services available to them.  Everyone who stops by will receive a free gift and a free healthy snack.  Local artists will also be on hand to showcase their talents.  Taylor Dye will provide music, fiber artist Devonna Hisel will demonstrate her craft, and other artists will display their artwork.


      The Promise Neighborhood Initiative works to build a network of cradle-to-career educational, family and community supports centered on local school districts.  Programs and activities must work to:

      • Improve academic achievement, especially in math or language arts
      • Help children, ages birth to five, be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten
      • Provide opportunities for youth to experience, explore and participate in the arts
      • Improve health and well being by addressing childhood obesity and promoting physical activity
      • Provide career exploration and connection opportunities for students.
      • Help students of all ages become college-ready


      For more information about Promise Neighborhood or the Jackson County Homecoming Open House, please contact Fred McQueen at (606) 287-7505, or at  You can also visit the Berea College Promise Neighborhood Initiative online at

    Kentucky College Coaches AmeriCorps Program

    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • The Berea College Externally Sponsored Programs office is now recruiting for twelve AmeriCorps College Coaches positions in local schools. Members will work with high schools students to improve college access and readiness. We are currently recruiting for positions in Breathitt County, Estill County, Lee County, Leslie County, Knott County, Knox County, Madison County (Berea and Richmond), Perry County and Pulaski County.


    Berea College Receives $30 Million Promise Neighborhood Grant

    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • President Obama announced today that Berea College in Kentucky is one of five Promise Neighborhood implementation grant recipients. This cradle-to-career initiative will fund work in Clay, Jackson and Owsley Counties in Kentucky. Read more

    Grants Help Berea College and Secondary School Students GEAR UP for College

    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • Berea College has been awarded two Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling nearly $10.7 million annually to focus teachers, administrators, parents and secondary school students on preparing for success in post-secondary education. The grants will fund two programs (GEAR UP Appalachia! and Promise Neighborhood GEAR UP) that serve elementary and middle school students in 17 central and southeastern Kentucky counties, a dozen of which are among the poorest in the nation. Read More

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