During my PULSE Assignment I will be based in Berea, KY, in the Appalachia region of the United States. Save the Children has a state office right across the street from Berea College, and that’s not by chance: The two are partners in Kentucky with similar missions.
Save the Children was started in the UK by Eglantyne Jebb in 1919 and first began working in the United States in Kentucky during the depression in 1932. Its aim in the US is to ensure that the most excluded children in rural communities grow up in safe environments and have access to education.
Berea College was established in 1855 by an abolitionist named John Gregg Fee. It was the first non-segregated, co-educational college in the Southern United States. The college was founded on the scripture passage “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” – Acts 17:26. Berea College is committed to providing a free education to students from Appalachia who “have great promise and limited economic resources.”
Berea College requires students to work in campus or community service jobs and tries to promote community service. The college is committed to serving people living in the Appalachian area. Many of the jobs available through the college are associated with making traditional crafts from the region such as weaving or woodworking.
Save the Children supported economic development projects in eastern Kentucky and as part of that initiative, started an Appalachian craft store leveraging the work Berea College was doing. Today, Save the Children’s Kentucky state office is located on the second floor of the building that houses the store, Appalachian Fireside Gallery, which is now owned by a co-op.
Berea College partners with Save the Children by funding and supporting literacy programs in eastern Kentucky in some of the poorest counties in the United States. Several of the staff in Save the Children’s Kentucky state office are graduates of Berea College, and with their commitment to improving literacy in the region, they are definitely returning the investment the college made in them.