Gov. Bevin Announces ARC Funding for New Leadership Program in Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky

Posted on: June 7, 2019
Tags: BRIGHT Kentucky

Governor's Office Media Contact: Nicole Burton

Gov. Bevin Announces ARC Funding for New Leadership Program in Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky

Applications are currently being accepted until June 28

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 7, 2019) – Gov. Matt Bevin’s office today announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved a $500,000 grant for the Leadership Kentucky Foundation to help create a new leadership program targeting young professionals in the Kentucky Appalachian corridor, named BRIGHT Kentucky. BRIGHT Kentucky is made possible by the ARC grant and private funding from the Whitaker Foundation and others.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments, including Kentucky, focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

“Eastern Kentucky is full of incredible promise and potential, and the region’s people are truly its greatest natural resource,” said Gov. Bevin. “Leadership Kentucky provides exceptional training and support for the Commonwealth’s rising stars, and I am confident that the BRIGHT program will help train up the next generation of leaders for Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky. I am appreciative of ARC, DLG, the Whitaker Foundation, Leadership Kentucky and other partners for supporting this important program.”

Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-06) has long advocated for the ARC funding that makes such a difference to programming in the area. He is excited to see ARC come together with local businesses and philanthropists to create BRIGHT Kentucky.

“BRIGHT Kentucky will help equip our upcoming leaders with the tools they need to further develop our rural communities in Eastern Kentucky,” said Congressman Rogers, who supported the ARC grant. “Our best days are ahead of us and this program will ensure that rising leaders are prepared to work together to generate new ideas and opportunities for our stellar workforce and our communities.”

BRIGHT Kentucky, to be coordinated by the Leadership Kentucky Foundation, Inc. (now in its 35th year), is designed to build the capacity of next-generation leaders (average age 20-40) in the Appalachian region of Kentucky to innovate, collaborate, and advance community and economic development. BRIGHT Kentucky will engage bright, entrepreneurial minds from all sectors and regions to offer non-partisan, ethical leadership training, expanded networks, and mentors designed especially for residents of the 54 Kentucky counties of the ARC.

The grant includes a significant support from the Whitaker Foundation as well as other private and corporate donors who care deeply about the future success of Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky.

Eastern Kentucky native and Leadership Kentucky 2018 board chair, Elmer K. Whitaker, believes for the region to continue to grow, diversify industries, and prosper, young leaders need access to strong, non-partisan leadership development programs that encourage participants to stay in the region and make a difference in their hometowns.

Whitaker shares, “Working hard is important, but sometimes that quality alone does not ensure success. It’s the convergence of hard work, determination, and opportunity. Sometimes you just need a chance, someone to believe in you, and help with gaining the necessary skills to improve your chances. Achieving begins with believing.”

BRIGHT Kentucky will fill the need for a local leadership development program focused on the region. A major focal point of the program will be to help participants fully understand local economic context and to build robust skill sets in communication, collaboration, consensus building, visioning, and community engagement. Participants will complete the program with the skills necessary to think long-term and strategically to build upon the strengths of their communities and lead the region to a more prosperous future.

“Transformation of a region requires the development of new, young leadership,” said Sandy Dunahoo, Commissioner of the Department for Local Government, responsible for administering ARC funding. “Building on the success of Leadership Kentucky, BRIGHT will target emerging leaders at a young age to inspire them toward developing a new vision for the Appalachia of tomorrow.”

The Leadership Kentucky Foundation and its programs are led by Janice Way, President of the Leadership Kentucky Foundation. Working with community leaders like Whitaker and others in Eastern Kentucky, Way is enthusiastic to get the program underway. “We are so grateful for the leadership of Governor Bevin, Congressman Rogers, and the ARC for supporting this grant and the private donors who came together to provide matching funds and make BRIGHT Kentucky possible.

The application deadline for the program is June 28, 2019. Applications are available online now.

To learn more about BRIGHT Kentucky session dates and locations as well as application information visit

Norton Healthcare
Pikeville Medical Center
Kentucky Power
US Bank
RunSwitch PR
Stites & Harbison, PLLC
Republic Bank
Whitaker Bank
Putting Kentuckians First and Reentry with the Kentucky Office Of Adult Education and the Education and Labor Cabinet
CHI St Joseph Healthcare
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
University of Louisville
Delta Dental
Kentucky Association of Health Plans
Whitaker Bank Foundation
St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Tennessee Valley Authority
Appalachian Regional Healthcare