EKU CARES funds five Community-based projects


RICHMOND – Eastern Kentucky CARES has funded five community-based projects. Because Eastern Kentucky University CARES:

– Students in Perry County will be taught where their food comes from and encouraged to begin a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

– High school students in Wayne and Pulaski counties will be educated about mental illness and mental health.

– Estill County Emergency Medical Services will develop a coordinated multi-tiered safety plan for preventing school violence and disruption and for responding to school violence and disruption when it occurs.

– Students in four school districts in Whitley and Knox counties will be exposed to the arts through a variety of course options and opportunities.

– Local community members from Harlan, Letcher and surrounding counties will engage in citizen science projects, such as monitoring lichens as a bio indicator of air quality, creating a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Each of these five community-based projects recently received a $10,000 grant from EKU’s Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship (CARES). By design, all the initiatives include partners at EKU and focus on one or more of the five following areas: economic and workforce development, education, environment, collaborative government, and health, wellness and safety. None of the grant funds can be used to cover construction costs.

”EKU is dedicated to our people, places and programs on our campuses and all across our region,” EKU President Michael Benson said. “These grants represent a great community partnership that is designed to address very specific opportunities in our communities and help those dedicated community servants carry out their good work.”

Eighteen proposals from across the EKU service region were submitted for possible funding. “We appreciate the hard work that went into preparing each one,” said Ian Mooers, director of EKU’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET). “I want to thank our internal and external grant reviewers who gave valuable time to carefully consider each application.”

A synopsis of each grant-awarded community project follows

Agriculture Literacy Project – A partnership between the EKU Department of Anthropology/Sociology/Social Work (Dr. Jennifer Wies) and Perry County Farm to School aims to make students aware of where their food comes from through farm field days, school gardens, and in-class food and nutrition education. The goal of the project is to instill healthy habits at an early age, teach environmental stewardship, and introduce hands-on learning that works in conjunction with Common Core standards.

“Ending the Silence” – A partnership between the EKU Department of Psychology (Dr. Robert Brubaker and Dr. Melinda Moore) and NAMI Kentucky will bring much needed education to high school students in Wayne and Pulaski counties about mental health/mental illness. Students will develop awareness and gain specific knowledge about mental health/mental illness conditions that they would not have otherwise had. They will be able to access mental health information, treatment resources, support, advocacy and/or early treatment should they, their friends, or family members need mental health services. The project is expected to help decrease the stigma and fear attached to getting treatment.

Engineers to Preparedness: School Safety and Community Preparedness Project – The partnership between EKU’s School of Justice Studies (Dr. Preston Elrod) and Estill County Emergency Medical Services (ECEMS) will develop and evaluate a plan that will initially target Estill County High School and provide a more comprehensive approach to school violence and disruption by directing more attention at the prevention of violence and disruption while also improving the ability of the school and first responders to effectively respond to and recover from a range of threatening and/or harmful events.

Southeastern Kentucky Fine Arts Academy – The partnership between the EKU Department of Exercise and Sport Science (Dr. Marianne McAdam) and Corbin Independent Schools will create a series of four collaborative fine arts workshops for middle and/or high school students meeting Kentucky’s requirement for formal identification as gifted and talented or who demonstrate high potential in dance, drama, music, or visual arts. The workshops will increase student exposure to various forms of expression in the respective fields. The collaboration between EKU and Corbin Independent Schools as well as surrounding school systems will also help build community capacity to plan, implement and sustain a fine arts academy.

Taking a “Lichen” to Air Quality: A Citizen Science Project – The partnership between EKU’s Division of Natural Areas (Dr. Melinda Wilder) and Pine Mountain Settlement School will develop and pilot a citizen science program using lichens as bio-indicators of air quality within EKU’s service region. This project will also provide the region with an ecological research database and an educational resource.

The community grant programs function on a reimbursement basis, with cost-share required. Grantees must first spend their own funds, in line with an approved budget, and then submit documentation of expenses to CARES to receive reimbursement.

Activities within the following counties were eligible for the grants: Bell, Boyle, Casey, Clay, Estill, Garrard, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Wayne and Whitley.

The EKU Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship was established to provide a unified, comprehensive approach to stewardship and engagement that focuses on the five areas identified by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education: economic and workforce development, education, environment, collaborative government, and health, wellness and safety.

For more information about how CARES can assist with community needs, contact Justina Keathley at justina.keathley@eku.edu or 859-622-6168 or visit regionalstewardship.eku.edu/eku-cares.

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