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SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

McConnell: EKCEP Receives $2.7 Million Federal Job Training Grant

Sen. Leader Mitch McConnell.  Photo Courtesy:  United States Senate.

Sen. Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo Courtesy: United States Senate.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) in Hazard, Kentucky, has received a $2.75 million competitive grant to provide training for out of work youth and unemployed adults to help them enter the workforce.  The grant was awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission for EKCEP’s TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY) Initiative: Developing a Technology-Driven Workforce project.

The federal grant will enable EKCEP to provide accelerated, industry-led technology training for hundreds of youth and adults seeking jobs who have demonstrated technology talent but currently lack information technology job opportunities.

“The funding will be used by EKCEP to provide training and employment services to constituents in 23 counties in Eastern Kentucky, including the eight Kentucky counties designated as a Promise Zone due to high poverty rates. Officials with EKCEP have told me this training will provide new technology opportunities in a region in need of economic innovation,” Senator McConnell said.

“The POWER funding awarded to EKCEP is an investment in the promise that a new IT sector can bring to Eastern Kentucky. It is much-needed, critical fuel for the TechHire Eastern Kentucky initiative. We are very appreciative of Senator McConnell’s efforts and thank him for his past and ongoing support as EKCEP works to develop new job and training opportunities for the people of Eastern Kentucky,” said Jeff Whitehead, Executive Director of EKCEP.

In 2015, Senator McConnell worked to secure a $7.5 million federal grant from the DOL for EKCEP to continue its services to assist individuals who lost their jobs as result of the decline in the coal industry. Senator McConnell wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez in support of EKCEP’s efforts.  Also, in 2013, Senator McConnell helped EKCEP secure a nearly $5.2 million competitive federal grant for the same program.

Study: Academic Readiness Gaps Closing but Slowly


by Lydia Lum

The gap in kindergarten academic readiness between high and low-income families narrowed by at least 10 percent between 1998 and 2010, marking a sharp reversal of a troubling, decades-long trend.

During this time frame, the White-Hispanic kindergarten readiness gap and the White-Black gap each dropped, too.

Academic researchers attributed the improved preparedness, in part, to low-income parents spending significantly more time reading to their children, taking them to museums and introducing them to educational games on computers. Many experts advocate early intervention in terms of policy and resources to close the readiness gap as a means of yielding major improvements in cognitive, academic and social outcomes.

However, researchers also cautioned against becoming overly optimistic. Despite the narrowing of these readiness gaps, they remain large and, in fact, progress is so slow that at the rate that improvements are occurring, it will take at least 60 years for disparities to be eliminated.

These are among the findings in a pair of new studies published last week in the current, quarterly issue of AERA Open, a journal of the American Educational Research Association.

In one study, titled “Recent Trends in Income, Racial and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry,” the authors noted that, over the past 20 years, the academic achievement gap for cohorts of children born in the mid-1970s and mid-1990s had grown by about 40 percent.

For their study, researchers compared and contrasted the reading, writing and math skills of about 17,000 students who entered kindergarten in 2010 with those of about 20,000 counterparts from 1998. To examine the income gap, the researchers focused on students from families in the 10th and 90th percentile of this country’s income distribution.  READ MORE.


The public is invited to come out and celebrate the heritage and the tradition of Hilton Head Island, SC


Hilton Head, SCThe Gullah Museum of Hilton Head presents its 1st Annual Gullah Food Festival on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 12 Georgianna Drive Hilton Head Island, SC. The event, which is free to attend, will be a full day of music and family entertainment for everyone to come out and enjoy – rain or shine. Food vendors and bouncy houses will be on-site, and a special celebrity guest TBA will be in attendance.

Louise Cohen, founder of the Gullah Museum. Photo Courtesy:

Come as vendors serve up their best pot and recipes of Shrimp and Grits, Seafood Gumbo, Devil Crabs and Stew Chicken, and more. All are invited to come out and celebrate the heritage and the tradition of the Island. It will be a full day of music and family entertainment for everyone to come out and enjoy rain or shine.

The Committee is happy to confirm that Casual Cal, who hosted the Multi-Cultural Circus in Bluffton, SC back in 2010 and 2011, will be cutting their radio spot advertisement for this event.

Since 2003, the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head, a 501(c)3 organization has been committee to maintaining the Gullah customs, traditions, language, stories, songs. Through the generous support of individuals and institutions the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head has successfully preserved its first structure The Little House.

Louise Miller Cohens great-grandfather, William Simmons, who was born in Beaufort, was a slave who herded cattle on the Barnwell Plantation. Later as a freed slave, he enlisted in Company B, 21st U.S. Colored Troops and served in the Civil War. At various times during his service, he was based on Morris Island and Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island. The land on which The Little House now stands. William Simmons died in 1922 and his daughter Celia sold the land to a member of her family.

The Gullah Museum has The Little House which is on Georgianna Drive was built-in 1930 for Mr. Simmons’s grandson, Mr. William Duey Simmons whom Mr. Simmons had raised. Mr. Simmons granddaughter Georgianna, who was Dueys sister, brought the land from one of her cousins Georgianna raised Louis and when Georgianna died. Louise inherited the land and the house. Through the generosity of Louise Miller Cohen, this land is now the site of the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island.

The Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island’s mission is to revive, restore and preserve the Hilton Head Island Gullah History for the benefit of all.

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