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As 2011 quickly comes to an end, there is very little time remaining in the year to decide whether you want to make a charitable donation and take advantage of an end-of the-year tax deduction.

Past student participants in The Center for Rural Development’s three summer youth leadership programs are taking to the region’s television airwaves to ask that you consider directing that donation toward those programs, which have helped hundreds of students earn leadership and scholarship opportunities since 1998.

The students will soon appear on WYMT, WKYT, WBKO and WVLT—all Gray Television stations—in a new 30-second commercial to ask that charitable givers consider donating this tax season to The Center specifically for the Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, and Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI).

The Center’s youth programs, which serve youth throughout 42 Southern and Eastern Kentucky counties, are supported solely by tax-deductible donations and other charitable contributions.

“The Rogers Scholars program gave me the confidence that Southern and Eastern Kentucky needs,” Amy Puerto of Somerset, a 2005 graduate of Rogers Scholars, says in the commercial.

Also, appearing in the promotional video are Spencer Wright and Jordan Meece, Liberty; Jon Preneta, Nicholasville; Tera Addis, Prestonsburg; and Tyler Fields and Adam Handy of Pikeville.

“The Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute gave me the skills necessary to successfully run my small business,” Meece, who graduated from both Rogers Scholars and ELI, says of the experience in helping him boost his business skills in his family’s business, Goose Creek Candles.

Since his youth program days, Meece’s business has grown to become one of America’s leading candle companies.

“Rogers Explorers showed me the impact math and science careers can have in our region,” Wright adds in the commercial.

The year-end drive is the latest campaign by The Center to generate financial support for its summer youth leadership programs, and make the public aware of how the programs are changing the lives of young people across the region.

Since 1998, 804 high school students have graduated from The Center’s Rogers Scholars program and earned college scholarship offers valued at more than $7.5 million from 16 participating colleges and universities.

Through Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, and ELI, The Center helps middle school students through rising high school juniors develop the skills they need to seize their potential as the region’s next generation of business and entrepreneurial leaders.

All three summer youth leadership programs are provided free of charge to participants.

“The Center believes the region’s youth are our future and the next leaders and entrepreneurs in Southern and Eastern Kentucky,” Lonnie Lawson, the organization’s president and CEO, said. “And in the words of U.S. Congressman Harold Rogers, ‘no young person should have to leave home to find his or her future.’”

To make a charitable donation to Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, or ELI, call The Center for Rural Development at 606-677-6000 or email