Berea College Promise Neighborhood

Promise NeighborhoodsCTL is a major partner in a five-year $30 million Promise Neighborhoods grant in three high-need rural Kentucky school districts, led by Berea College and funded by the US Department of Education. The initiative addresses challenges faced by students and families living in high-poverty communities, and aims to ensure cradle-to-career success with particular focus on education and health drawing on the support of community resources. Based on the Harlem Children’s Zone, the project attempts to build a community infrastructure that supports educational attainment and provides a path out of poverty.  The Kentucky project was one of only five in the nation to be awarded implementation funds in the first round of competition, of more than 200 organizations from 45 states that applied for both implementation and planning grants.

The work supported by the grant is taking place in Jackson, Owsley and Clay Counties in Kentucky, and builds on work completed there in 2011 under a Promise Neighborhoods planning grant also led by Berea College. Under that grant, CTL collected data on school readiness, classroom rigor and the college-going culture of the public schools, and piloted professional development models that support teaching and learning and showed promising results.

CTL’s work under the new grant focuses on professional development K-12 and includes:

  • CTL’s Promise Neighborhood Summer Reading Project to address “summer slide” and promote literacy at home and at school
  • CTL’s Artful Reading that uses children’s literature about the arts to develop early literacy and arts knowledge
  • CTL Mathematics Support which provides virtual and face-to-face training and coaching aligned with the Common Core to help mathematics teachers make instructional shifts associated with the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMPs)
  • CTL’s Technology Support providing training and technical assistance for districts transitioning to more flexible and cost-effective learning management systems

Some 175 teachers and administrators in the three rural counties are participating in the work.

Who benefits

Administrators and teachers in Jackson, Owsley and Clay Counties (Kentucky) have access to training, coaching and support from CTL Educational Programs staff on site and via distance, leading to improved classroom instruction for students across grade levels and disciplines.


During 2013-14:

  • One hundred nine teachers learned through CTL Artful Reading training how to integrate the arts intentionally into classroom practice and how to develop their own rigorous units of study around the arts and picture books.
  • CTL’s Instructional Coaching supported 17 teachers and administrators in leading instructional improvement in their schools, and participants expressed increased confidence in working with teachers as a result.
  • Twelve mathematics teachers were engaged by CTL in making connections between Success for All mathematics curriculum, Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, and evidence of desired changes in actual classroom practice.
  • Implementation of online and distance learning practices that included use of the Blackboard LMS as more than 120 teachers incorporated 15,000 pages into classroom exercises. More than 600 students used it per month during the 2013-14 school year.

During Summer 2015:

  • The Summer Reading Project mailed nearly 2000 books to over 300 students exiting 6th, 7th, and 8th grades across Clay, Jackson, and Owsley Counties.


Berea College, Berea, Kentucky
Jackson County (Kentucky) Schools
Owsley County (Kentucky) Schools
Clay County (Kentucky) Schools
Cumberland Valley (Kentucky) District Health Department
Save the Children
Kentucky Folklife Program

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