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'Tomorrow Corps' Offers Students a Chance to Work, Serve in Appalachia

by Keith Hautala

(Sept. 24, 2014) — Students from across the University of Kentucky have a new opportunity to work for the well-being of children in the 54 Appalachian counties of Kentucky, in the "UK Tomorrow Corps," a service initiative being launched by the UK Appalachian Center.  

Valley in AppalachiaThe UK Tomorrow Corps program will provide summer employment and professional support for UK students tutoring K-12 students in math and literacy skills, in partnership with local libraries, public schools, and community organizations. The initiative is intended to help young residents of Appalachia gain and retain skills through the summer and work toward their long-term educational goals.

Participants can be from any major and will receive training throughout the academic year to help them succeed as tutors during the summer. Student interns from the UK College of Social Work will rotate among tutoring sites to help the Appalachian students and their families – in collaboration with public school family resource centers – connect with available public services and resources. Appalachian Kentucky is increasingly multicultural, and the tutoring services requested by community members will be available in multiple languages.

Students working in the UK Tommorow Corps program will also help support community food security by assisting libraries and other community organizations to apply to be USDA summer feeding sites, and by helping to organize food backpack programs in association with the tutoring sites. USDA summer food security resources are already available but are underutilized. The UK Appalachian Center has been supporting farmers markets and other community enrollment in the summer feeding program.

The UK Appalachian Center began its summer internship program in 2012, and it has been growing each year. UK students from Appalachian counties may find the center's internship opportunities especially useful, enabling them to be paid in the summer to work with organizations in their home region while furthering their own professional goals. However, these internships are available to all UK undergraduate and graduate students, no matter where they come from.

Interns have supported the work of the New Opportunity School for Women, Kentucky Riverkeeper, Lend-a-Hand Center, Owsley County Farm to School and Community Gardening Center, health departments, the Ashland Employment and Training office, public school teacher training institutes, local history museums, STAY youth leadership institutes, and other programs.

Summer paid internships are available for 100 or 200 direct service hours with community organizations. Travel time is not covered. However, some communities offer housing options to those not living in the region. Some of the internships are sponsored by donors who want to invest directly in the future of young Kentuckians.   

UK undergraduate and graduate students in any college or discipline are invited to apply to join the UK Tomorrow Corps summer 2015 cohort. For more information, please contact Ann Kingsolver, director (, or Shane Barton, program coordinator (, or call Erin Norton, department manager, 859-257-4852.