BRIGHT Kentucky

BRIGHT Kentucky is designed to build the capacity of next-generation leaders (average age 21-40) in the Appalachian region of Kentucky to innovate, collaborate, and advance community and economic development. BRIGHT Kentucky engages 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 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Since the program launched in 2019, approximately 170 young professionals have graduated from BRIGHT and are making a deeper impact in their communities and benefitting the small and emerging businesses they either own or are employed. BRIGHT Kentucky is funded through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and private funding from the Whitaker Foundation, Kentucky Power/AEP Foundation, and others.

Because of BRIGHT...

Because of BRIGHT...

“The BRIGHT program is hands-down the best professional development opportunity I've had to this point. The ideas and programs introduced to me through BRIGHT have shaped my career. The connections made through the program have proven helpful time and time again and will be relationships I keep throughout my life. I think the number of BRIGHT alumni who have gone on to receive regional and state recognitions since completing the program speaks volumes to its effectiveness and value to the region. The positive impact on Appalachia because of BRIGHT will be felt for years to come as we grow and inspire new leaders, advocate for change, and take action to improve the communities we love.”  – Crystal Cox – Pulaski County

Program Information

BRIGHT Kentucky was developed in 2019 thanks to an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant and private funding from the Whitaker Foundation and others. The ARC 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. Click to view ARC County Map in Kentucky.

A major focal point of BRIGHT Kentucky is to help participants fully understand the 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. 

BRIGHT Kentucky 2023 Session Dates

  • July 12-14 | Pikeville/Prestonsburg
  • August 9-11 | Pineville/Middlesboro
  • September 6-8 | Ashland/Morehead
  • October 3-5 | Somerset/Corbin
  • November 1-3 | Berea/Frankfort

These dates are subject to change. 

BRIGHT Kentucky Participants

The target audience for participation is Eastern Kentuckians representing the next generation of leaders (average age 21-40 years old). The curriculum is designed to inspire and energize participants who live and work in Eastern Kentucky to stay in Eastern Kentucky and make a difference in their home communities. It is expected that participants will attend all sessions, but the first session in July is mandatory.

Program participants must live and/or work in one of the 54 Kentucky counties of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The region includes the following counties: Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Greenup, Harlan, Hart, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, and Wolfe.

BRIGHT Kentucky Application

The application window for BRIGHT Kentucky 2023 is now closed. 

If interested in participating in the BRIGHT Kentucky Class of 2024, please complete the online interest form

Contact us at if you have any questions.

BRIGHT Kentucky is made possible by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and private funding from the Whitaker Foundation, AEP Foundation/Kentucky Power, and others. 

Norton Healthcare
Kentucky Power
US Bank
RunSwitch PR
Fifth Third Bank
Republic Bank
Whitaker Bank
Maker's Mark
HealthPoint Family Care
CHI St Joseph Healthcare
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Delta Dental
Whitaker Bank Foundation
St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Tennessee Valley Authority
University of Louisville
University of Pikeville