Rural Kentucky Education Co-op Wins $30 Million ‘Race to the Top’ Grant

A co-op that includes 17 eastern Kentucky rural school districts has won $30 million in federal grant money.

“We were ecstatic. I don’t think words can express how important we believe this is for the region’s schools and for the communities in the region,” says Jeff Hawkins, executive director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, which serves over 100 schools and 40,000 students.

When the U.S. Department of Education opened the grants to local districts for the first time last year, KVEC lost. Instead, another group of Kentucky schools won $40 million. This year, Hawkins says KVEC reworked its application to make it stronger.

“We feel this really validates a lot of the innovation that has been going on in our region for the last three or four years and provides us some confidence in the fact that we are on the right track,” says Hawkins.

The KVEC application includes partnerships with 21 groups that range from colleges to healthcare and civic organizations, he says.  The next steps are to figure out details of how the 17 Kentucky school districts will use the money to complete the goals laid out in the application, Hawkins says.

KVEC was one of five local groups or districts that will share the $120 Race to the Top grant funds this year. All five winners were from southern states.

And the winners are:

  • Clarendon County School District Two (consortium of four rural districts), South Carolina
  • Clarksdale Municipal School District, Mississippi
  • Houston Independent School District, Texas
  • Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (consortium of 18 rural districts)
  • Springdale School District, Arkansas

(Image via Shutterstock)

Devin Katayama

Devin Katayama host middays for WFPL and reports on education and other Louisville issues.

@DevinWFPL

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