Our Mission

For more than 100 years, Berea College has served the people of Appalachia. As an area of acute educational and economic disparities—then and to this day—Appalachia remains Berea’s primary service region. The Brushy Fork Institute extends the College’s historic and enduring commitment to serve the region. It accomplishes this by providing resources and services in support of sustainable community development.

Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College logo

Our approach to community development is informed by the ideals embodied by the College:

  • We share a vision of a world shaped by dignity and equality,
  • encourage concern for the welfare of others,
  • promote opportunities for serving in community, and
  • promote developmental practices that assert the kinship of all people.

Committed to the attainment, for all, of lives that are worthy of equal dignity, we work with both existing and emerging leaders to help communities build for tomorrow. We seek to improve the quality of life of communities throughout Appalachia. More specifically, Appalachian areas designated as economically distressed. We do this by:

  • Working to grow local leadership,
  • motivate civic engagement, and
  • support the development and articulation of community-driven visions.

The Institute also collaborates with other campus departments, centers, and faculty and staff in serving the following goals:

  • To increase the number of people taking leadership responsibility at the campus, community, county, and regional levels.
  • To promote leadership perspectives and practices that are developmental, collaborative, accountable, compassionate, and effective.
  • To help communities articulate their vision and build on their history, strengths, and creativity to achieve goals that are community-defined and community-driven.
  • To facilitate connections among community leaders and regional organizations.
  • To promote and secure inclusive citizen participation in decision making processes.
  • To strengthen the contributions of other Berea College programs to the development of Central Appalachian leaders and communities.
  • To share practical methods of planning, developing, and rehabilitating communities.