LONDON, KY – Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation received a $10,000 grant from the Berea College Appalachian Fund to create the Promise Zone Federal Grant Procurement Mentoring Pilot Program.

The program is designed to build the capacity of grant writers and increase their success in securing federal funds for their communities. It will create a mentoring network of grant writers and grant administrators to be paired with small community-based organizations within the Promise Zone and assist them with:

  • Strategic planning for grant projects
  • Program design – understanding the research and best practices in the field
  • Writing a grant proposal
  • Preparing a budget for the program and thinking of the impact on the organization’s budget
  • Evaluating the success of the project
  • Planning to sustain, replicate the project

The mentoring program will focus on three areas of funding: health and wellness, healthy and local foods, and STEM education. It will provide stipends to mentors, engage small community-based organizations new to grant writing and develop an online resource guide for federal grant seekers. They must provide services in the Promise Zone footprint of Knox, Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay and most of Whitley Counties.

“Federal grants are complex and difficult for small community-based organization to navigate,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of KHIC, which is coordinating and managing the federal Promise Zone. “This pilot program will help us increase the capacity for attracting grant funds to the region. It also will help create a model and secure funding for grant mentoring program for the duration of the Promise Zone designation.”

In addition to personal mentoring, the program will develop easy-to-understand modules to guide organizations in navigating the federal grant process, including locating a grant, understanding the request for proposal, completing steps to ensure eligibility for federal funding, developing a federal budget and submitting a federal grant. The modules will be available electronically and include a dedicated email where questions can be sent and answered by a mentor in a timely manner.

“The Berea College Appalachian Fund is pleased to be able to partner with the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation in this project,” said David Cooke, director of the Berea College Appalachian Fund. “This is truly an investment in the future of Kentucky, and it is appropriate that these two organizations with their long history of service to the region are working together.”

The Kentucky Promise Zone initiative, which runs through 2024, gives the area a competitive advantage in applying for federal funding as well as additional assistance from federal agencies that oversee housing, education, economic development, agriculture and safety. Those agencies also will provide increased coordination to help the counties maximize federal and private investment.