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Summit to Highlight Kentucky 'Promise Neighborhood' Site, Rural Ed. Issues

Berea, Ky.

A Kentucky college that was the first rural recipient of a federal Promise Neighborhood implementation grant is hosting a Rural Education Summit that kicks off today.

The two-day gathering will be held at Berea College and organizers hope it will give practitioners, policymakers, and others who are passionate about rural education the opportunity to connect and talk about issues facing the field.

Wednesday's sessions are dedicated to discussions on how to improve educational outcomes in rural America, and Thursday will be spent visiting rural schools that are part of the college's Promise Neighborhood grant. Officials plan to feature work that can be deepened or replicated in other rural areas.

Yours truly is here at Berea to cover the conference. In preparing to for the trip, I've been researching Berea, the roughly 1,600-student liberal arts college hosting the summit. It's known as the first college in the South to be coed and integrated, and it doesn't charge tuition (?!). Every student is required to work at least 10 hours on campus.

What's even more interesting is that this college only accepts students who have academic potential and can demonstrate financial need. The college has a policy that determines whether students are financially eligible. Berea generally only takes applications from families whose income is in the bottom 40 percent nationally, according to Wikipedia.

Nearly 70 percent of its students come from Appalachia and Kentucky, and 54 percent of first-year students come from families where neither parent has a college degree.

It's an interesting place, and I'm looking forward to digging into the details of its Promise Neighborhood initiative.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on what I learn while in Kentucky. Follow me on Twitter for the latest updates.

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