Appalachian Kentucky Service Year Impact Community Initiative Receives $150k Through Grant Program by National Nonprofit StriveTogether

Appalachian Kentucky Service Year Impact Community initiative is one of 21 cradle-to-career partnerships that will advance equity and spread bold strategies to help children and families access opportunity and move up the economic ladder


BEREA, KENTUCKY — Partners for Education at Berea College, a place-based organization dedicated to ensuring all Appalachian students succeed, has received $150,000 from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids. The Appalachian Kentucky Service Year Impact Community initiative will use its grant award to implement a service year model in rural areas to improve educational outcomes and reduce disparity gaps in southeastern Kentucky.

The grant award is part of StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge, which seeks to create local change to enable economic mobility. The program’s goal is to strengthen and align the many systems, such as education, employment, health and housing, that shape opportunity for children and families in America.

Partners for Education will work with the Service Year Alliance, an organization dedicated to making a year of service a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans, and with Serve Kentucky, which oversees AmeriCorps funding and other community service programs, to increase the number of service year opportunities in eastern Kentucky. During a service year, participants earn a stipend while developing real-world skills through hands-on service.

The initiative will have a dual impact on eastern Kentucky communities. For the person who serves, it will engage them with the community while they build skills needed in the workforce. At the same time, service years provide local organizations the person-power to address needs that would otherwise go unmet.

The Appalachian Kentucky Service Year Impact Community initiative is intended to increase the number of service year opportunities in eastern Kentucky that focus on improving educational outcomes. The goal is to double the number of service years focused on improving educational outcomes by 2025.

“We know that interacting regularly with positive role models contributes to successful school experiences, high school graduation and college going,” said Dreama Gentry, executive director of Partners for Education. “By having an increased number of people engaged in service years, our youth will see and interact with an even greater range of role models.”

The Appalachian Kentucky Service Year Impact Community grant comes through the Community Challenge’s Promising Practices Fund, which is intended to find local projects applying bold strategies that can be spread across StriveTogether’s national network. These projects will focus on deeper community engagement and align education with other sectors such as health, housing and transportation. Eleven community-based organizations were awarded grants of up to $150,000 for one year.

Through the Community Challenge, up to $7 million over the next three years will fund projects across the country that advance equity and spread bold strategies to help students progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and a job. During this round of grants, 10 communities also were selected for the Community Challenge. Communities in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply for the Community Challenge.

“StriveTogether launched the Cradle to Career Community Challenge because we refuse to settle for a world in which a child’s ability to thrive is dictated by factors like race or income,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “From partners across the country, we know the urgency of this work and the value of creating lasting change in communities. We are proud to start this year supporting 21 cradle-to-career partnerships to get real results for youth and families.”



Partners for Education at Berea College uses a place based, student focused approach to improve educational outcomes in Appalachian Kentucky. By braiding services and aligning federal, state and private funding streams, Partners for Education works to ensure all Appalachian students succeed at school.

StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: help every child succeed in school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance. In partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.5 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 30 states and Washington, D.C.

Service Year Alliance is working to make a year of paid, full-time service — a service year — a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans. A service year before, during, or after college gives young people the chance to transform their lives, make an impact in their community, and become the active citizens and leaders our nation needs. Expanding service years has the power to revitalize cities, uplift and educate children at risk, and empower communities struggling with poverty. Learn more at

Serve Kentucky, formerly the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service, is a State Service Commission. In addition to overseeing the annual grant competition that awards funding to AmeriCorps State and other community service programs, State Service Commissions determine social needs in their states, set policy and program priorities, provide training and assistance, support national days of service, and promote service and volunteering.