Rural Scholars participantsOUR VISION

Rural Scholars experience education as a means for weaving together the various threads of their experiences, their lives, their community, their world. Rural Scholars understand their own responsibility for being lifelong learners and engaged community members.

The program's collaborative values, rooted in an appreciation for place, culture, and local history will bring together university resources with community assets to produce innovative curriculum and dynamic service experiences for students along the K-16 continuum. As students succeed, they will have structured opportunities to reinvest their own energies and talents back into the community. Students who complete the high school portion of the program will be eligible to apply for a Rural Scholars Scholarship at Kent State's Salem and East Liverpool campuses, serving as mentors for the students following in their footsteps.

Kent State University’s Salem and East Liverpool campuses, in collaboration with the local community,  are building a stronger pathway from the schools to our university classrooms by creating a program that will serve first-generation students in and around Columbiana County.

The development phase of the project was made possible by an AmeriCorps grant through the VISTA program in partnership with Ohio Campus Compact. Currently, the Rural Scholars is supported by Kent State University's Columbiana campuses and our local partners. Grants including Ohio's Community Connectors program and the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation ensure program sustainability.

The Rural Scholars Program will offer extended college access support to selected students across the K-16 continuum, making the excellence characteristic of a Kent education accessible to students of all ages. Our goal is to ensure that students who participate in our program attend and complete their chosen course of study in college or other post-secondary training, ultimately reinvesting their energies and talents in the local community.

Program Goals

When the program is fully phased-in by the year 2018, we hope to have…

  • a full complement of college freshman from our first cohort of 2012 seventh graders participating in learning communities on campus and mentoring younger students in the program.
  • elementary students in every local school district receiving college awareness curriculum from our college-aged mentors.
  • 198 students enrolled in the 7-12 portion of the program including…
    • 33 entering seventh graders.
    • 33 high school seniors in the College Credit Plus program, preparing their college applications.

A Measurable Impact

How will we know it’s working?

  • Children in fifteen local school districts will gain direct exposure to college and enriching academic experiences.
  • Educators across the educational continuum will work collaboratively to develop innovative curricula and enhance educational outcomes in the area.
  • The program will systematically assess the progress of individual students as well as program elements on an ongoing basis. This will include examination of everything from survey responses to test scores, quality of service projects to GPAs.
  • Students not directly involved will benefit from the new curricula and information circulating in their districts, energizing students and teachers around college access and STEM subjects.
  • We hope to see improved collaboration and communication within the community around shared goals and treasured resources.
  • Rural Scholars will reinvest in their communities throughout their years in the program and beyond.


The Rural Scholars Program is generously supported by the following:

  • Rachel Boyce Lang Charitable Trust
  • Salem Community Foundation
  • Consumers National Bank
  • Giant Eagle of Salem
  • Local Businesses

Contact Us

  • Donny Larabee:,  330-337-4270 (Salem) 330-382-7515 (East Liverpool)

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