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Past Programs of the Kentucky Chamber Foundation

2005 - 2006


The Business Forum on Kentucky Education was organized to review the state’s education system with the goal of accelerating school improvement to meet the demands of the 21st century. Forum members include employers and education advocates from across Kentucky.

The report noted that Kentucky schools are making progress but that the state is being outpaced by other states and nations that are the source of competition for Kentuckians in a global economy.

The report’s recommendations are organized into eight categories:

  • Ensuring a successful beginning for students by investing in quality early childhood care and education programs
  • Improving academic achievement by requiring more rigorous courses and supporting student learning
  • Developing and rewarding effective teachers and school leaders
  • Improving high school performance
  • Holding educators, administrators, schools, universities and students accountable for achievement
  • Enhancing workforce preparation with more support for both students and adults
  • Expanding the involvement of employers and other community members in education
  • Improving the management and alignment of schools

These goals have and continue to serve as the basis of much of the Kentucky Chamber’s education policy initiatives.

Amazon.com GED Program

Amazon.com, Commerce Lexington’s Workforce Development Partnership, the Kentucky

Chamber Foundation and the Kentucky Adult Education-Council on Postsecondary Education partnered on the Go, Earn, Do — GED initiative to help adults in in 20 Campbellsville-area counties and Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Garrard, Jessamine, Madison, Scott and Woodford counties receive their GEDs.

More than 1,500 people in 20 counties successfully earned their GED through the program. Amazon.com provided up to $40 for a GED test fee reimbursement, a $20 Amazon.com gift card and preference in hiring to GED graduates for program participants.


University of Kentucky Professor Ken Troske examined education spending in Kentucky both before, during and after the period when the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) and the Kentucky Post- Secondary Education Improvement Act, or House Bill 1 (HB1), were passed.

The report also compared spending in Kentucky with spending in the average U.S. state and with spending in states that boarder Kentucky to see whether Kentucky is “catching-up” with these other states. The primary findings from the main study revealed that while K-12 and post-secondary spending rose around the time of the respective reforms, more recent education spending, as a share of the economy, has slipped in Kentucky. In addition, spending on education in Kentucky remains below educational spending levels in the average U.S. state and below the levels in our boarder states.



The New Agenda for Kentucky developed an action plan of ideas and innovations that were be presented to Gov. Steve Beshear following the November 2007 election. The plan represented the best thinking of Kentucky’s business and civic leaders, young entrepreneurs and other citizens reflecting the state’s geographic and demographic diversity.

A task force of established business executives and young entrepreneurs from throughout Kentucky provided the oversight and guidance needed to ensure the innovation of the project. Craig Grant, regional president for PNC Bank, chaired the task force.

Citizens from across the state presented more than 400 of their best ideas. Each idea submitted should follow three simple guidelines:

  1. Be relevant to Kentuckians. Every idea should speak to the concerns of Kentuckians and be relevant to their lives.
  2. Focus on the future. Each idea should be about the future and aimed at making Kentucky a better place to live and work.
  3. Think beyond the government. Although government's role in communities and the economy is vital, ideas should focus not only on government action but also should consider the role of private enterprise and individuals in making Kentucky the best it can be.

The projected resulted in 5 goals the task force argued could change the face of Kentucky:

  1. Preparing Kentucky to successfully compete in the global marketplace
  2. Improving the education attainment of Kentuckians at all levels
  3. Expanding Kentucky’s role as an energy leader
  4. Promoting wellness and healthy Kentuckians
  5. Modernizing government at all levels

These goals were formally adopted as the framework for the Kentucky’s Chamber’s strategic plan in 2008.


The Task Force on Postsecondary Education made up of business leaders was convened to assess Kentucky’s progress toward achieving its goals in postsecondary education as they were established in legislation enacted in 1997. Those goals included moving Kentucky to the national average of education attainment and per capita income.

The task force, headed by E.ON U.S. Chairman, CEO, and President Victor A. Staffieri, concluded its work with the release of an extensive report prepared by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, a Colorado-based consulting firm engaged by the task force to conduct a review that included data analyses, interviews with policymakers and elected officials and a series of nine regional meetings held last summer throughout Kentucky.

The task force accepted the NCHEMS report and approved the recommendations.

NCHEMS’ findings—the basis for the recommendations—included the following:

  • Kentucky has made progress in building the capacity of its postsecondary institutions and system as reflected in increased enrollments and degree production.
  • The state faces considerable challenges in ensuring students’ success through the education “pipeline” – of 100 Kentucky ninth-graders, only 12 receive either an associate degree in three years or a bachelor’s degree in six years.
  • Kentucky has made progress in improving education attainment and per capita income, but its position relative to the national average has changed little over the past decade because other states have also improved.
  • The goals of the 1997 reforms remain as important to the future of Kentucky as they were when adopted. Many pieces of the program are in place, but Kentucky will need to work aggressively to achieve the ultimate goals of education attainment and per capita income.

The work of the task force provides the basis for much of the chamber’s higher education policy agenda and was the impetus for a governor-appointed task force to review affordability and alignment of Kentucky’s higher education system.