WHITESBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky Power on Thursday awarded a $75,000 American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation grant to Appalshop, a nonprofit organization in Letcher County.
Founded in 1969, Appalshop uses art and culture to tell the stories of the people of Appalachia and their rural communities through film, video, radio, new media, music, theater and community exchanges. The grant will fund Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute in 3-Dimensions for young people ages 14 to 22. The grant will allow Appalshop to hire a full-time teacher, buy state-of-the-art equipment and software, and offer an intensive 3-D printing pilot course and exhibition.
“Kentucky Power and the AEP Foundation support improving lives through education,” said Kentucky Power President Brett Mattison. “This grant is a major investment in our children, our communities and the future of eastern Kentucky. Technology is continually changing how we live, work and learn and this gift will help our young people discover what is possible.”
Through Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute, youth filmmakers are paid to study and produce media after school and during the summer, Gibson said. They use their skills to start important community conversations on topics such as career transition, rural-urban outmigration, domestic violence, alcoholism and drug abuse, and the changing Appalachian culture. The program has boosted area graduation rates, fostered civic pride and individual confidence, and helped youth break down barriers to educational attainment common to economically struggling rural and urban communities,” Gibson said.
“We believe that our community-based organization, built from the creative and technical facility of young people, is a blueprint for recruiting and incubating young leaders,” Appalshop Executive Director Alex Gibson said. “The Appalshop-Kentucky Power collaboration is an opportunity for us to foster a new generation of market-ready Central Appalachian designers.”
The AEP Foundation is funded by AEP and its operating companies, including Kentucky Power. AEP Foundation grants are not tracked for recovery from customers through rates. The Foundation grants focus on improving lives primarily through education in science, technology, engineering, math and the environment and by supporting basic services, such as shelter, housing, health, safety and hunger. In awarding grants, Kentucky Power gives priority to organizations serving 168,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties served by Kentucky Power.