"In order to develop competitive and sustainable economies, communities must have the capacity to plan for and take advantage of economic opportunities. Building the capacity of three interdependent elements—individual leaders, organizations, and the community as a whole—to develop and work strategically toward economic goals is vital to helping Appalachian communities reach socioeconomic parity with the nation."

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Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky has used a relatively new model, rural development philanthropy, as they have evolved over the past few years. Through an intentional process of community engagement, the Foundation developed a strategic framework to be used as the basis for community building, capacity building, and creating a permanent endowment.



The Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky hopes to achieve this national goal by building leadership development skills; fostering broad citizen involvement; supporting the development of strategic planning;  creating a culture of philanthropy; and strengthening collaborations among business, government, and nonprofits.

Over the past several years, efforts to promote philanthropy in the rural region of southeastern Kentucky have accelerated through the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky. The Foundation formed as an independent organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c) 3 non-profit community foundation in 2006. The Foundation has garnered sufficient resources with diverse funding streams, including substantial local support, and has emerged as a respected, regional community foundation. The Board of Directors, along with other community and regional leaders, have embraced the mission and vision of a regional community foundation headquartered in the heart of southeastern Kentucky’s distressed Appalachian Counties.

Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky is grounded in the principles of rural development philanthropy, a comprehensive approach to build the capacity of our communities by engaging citizens as donors and planners. Through an intentional process of community engagement, the Foundation developed a strategic framework to be used as the basis for community building, capacity building and endowment building in communities across the region. Using this strategic framework as a guide, the Foundation makes grants, primarily with money passed through by others committed to the process, to implement projects within priorities determined by people in the region. Our communities are engaged, becoming more experienced in cooperative and creative partnerships and beginning to make the connections between wealth creation and community development through philanthropy.

By leveraging the resources already in our contiguous counties and in the region – emerging leaders, existing creative non-profits, and wealth – this targeted regional effort will strengthen and promote rural development philanthropy as a way to build community.