Berea College delivered some news appropriate to this hopeful season Tuesday with the announcement that it has been awarded one of five U.S. Department of Education grants aimed at improving education and student development in poor regions.
The three counties Berea will serve — Jackson, Owsley and Clay — rank among the 50 poorest counties in this country. Owsley and Clay are in the Top 10. It is the only one of the five grants awarded to a rural area.
The grant of $6 million annually over five years will be used to provide a range of educational enhancements from tutoring to after-school and summer programs to expanded cultural and recreational opportunities.
Children, families and educators in the these counties won't have to wait long to see some action. Dreama Gentry, executive director of external programs at Berea College, said some services will be offered in schools as early as mid-February.
Combined with other grants Berea has recently won, the college will be able to offer programs to more than 15,000 young people in 17 counties.
Berea College was founded to offer a college education to people who were often denied it, a mission it continues to serve. With these grants, it continues its historic mission and extends it to thousands of younger students.
Education, we know, is closely linked with economic opportunity throughout life.
Congratulations to Berea for seeking out and winning these grants to provide a gift that will keep on giving to some of Kentucky's poorest children.