Leaders Gather for Rural Education Summit

More than 100 rural leaders gathered at Berea College on November 20 to take part in the inaugural Berea College Rural Education Summit. The two-day event featured keynote speakers, expert panels, discussion groups and a tour of the Berea College Promise Neighborhood. The summit, sponsored by Berea College, the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink and Save the Children provided an opportunity for dialogue between practitioners, policy-makers, funders and others passionate about education.

Ginny Ann Blackson, director of the Berea College Promise Neighborhood, said the event achieved its goal. “We featured work that can be deepened or replicated in other rural areas,” she said. “The summit was intended to focus attention on the need for private investment in rural education and on policy changes needed to ease the programmatic and financial issues impacting education in rural America.”  Blackson said that the discussions and recommendations that resulted from the summit would be published in a white paper and shared with policy makers, funders and practitioners.

Geoffrey Canada at Project Neighborhood Rural SummitOn the first day, keynote speakers presented their work on important issues related to educating youth in rural areas. Attendees heard from representatives from the Promise Neighborhood Institute, Save the Children, the Appalachian Fund, the Steele-Reese Foundation, the Elgin Foundation, Berea College, the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the Adams County Promise Neighborhood and the Indianola Promise Community. Following the talks, attendees participated in question and answer sessions and facilitated table discussions.

Project Neighborhood Rural SummitOn day two, attendees traveled to see programs in action in the Berea College Promise Neighborhood. The tours stopped at schools in Clay, Jackson and Owsley counties, and visited college and career readiness classrooms, arts and humanities programs and community offices.

Partners for Education at Berea College uses a place-based, student-focused approach to improve educational outcomes in Appalachian Kentucky. To learn more, visit https://www.berea.edu/pfe/.

The Promise Neighborhood Institute combines the leadership of PolicyLink, the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Center for the Study of Social Policy in order to provide resources and guidance to build and sustain burgeoning Promise Neighborhoods. For more information, visit www.promiseneighborhoodsinstitute.org.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world what every child deserves—a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. To learn more, visit www.savethechildren.org.

Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Berea College Promise Neighborhood, Berea College Rural Education Summit, Ginny Ann Blackson

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally-recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.