The Center for Rural Development - Rogers Scholars

Supporters of The Center for Rural Development’s Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, and Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) will have an opportunity to donate to these programs on May 14—Kentucky Gives Day.    

The Center will join nonprofits from throughout Kentucky to participate in Kentucky Gives Day, an online 24-hour annual fundraising event, that brings charities and Kentuckians together for a powerful day of giving. 

“This campaign will help support middle and high school students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky who attend our three summer youth leadership programs,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “Your support will go a long way toward helping us provide valuable leadership skills, an emphasis on community service, and exclusive college scholarship opportunities to these students who will become our region’s next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.” 

Each summer, nearly 300 students from 45 Kentucky communities graduate from Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, and ELI. The Rogers Explorers program is sponsored by The Center and presented in partnership with seven Kentucky colleges and universities. ELI, a program for rising high school entrepreneurs, is presented in partnership with Kentucky Highlands and Eastern Kentucky University. 

High school student Gracie Johnson, a graduate of both Rogers Scholars and Rogers Explorers, called the programs “an experience of a lifetime.”

“I would not trade my time at Rogers Scholars and Rogers Explorers for the world,” she said. “The gratitude that I have for the opportunities these programs provided me with is immeasurable. I learned that nothing can hold me back. As long as I am willing to put in the work, I can achieve whatever I want.”

To make an online, tax-deductible donation to The Center’s youth programs’ Kentucky Gives Day campaign before or on May 14, visit

Kentucky Gives Day officially begins at midnight (EST) on May 14 and continues through 11:59 p.m. (EST). The fundraising event is an initiative of Kentucky Nonprofit Network, Kentucky’s state association of nonprofits. In the last five years, Kentucky Gives Day has raised more than $1.6 million for nearly 500 nonprofits with nearly 11,000 donations.

For more information about The Center’s youth programs, contact Allison Cross, community liaison and youth programs coordinator, at 606-677-6019 or

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In its 45-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.


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