The Center for Rural Development

We change people's lives.

Home » About » Affiliates
June 21, 2018


The Center for Rural Development partners with our six affiliate organizations to better serve the needs of Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Each affiliate organization, regardless of its specific focus and tactics, has an eye toward economic development and life improvement that broadens The Center’s base and increases its services.

The Center is dedicated to working cooperatively with these affiliates and state and federal organizations to maximize benefits to the region and meet its core mission goal: to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

These affiliates include:


PRIDE Personal Responsibility in a Desirable EnvironmentPRIDE (Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment) volunteers are making a difference in their home communities and working together to transform Southern and Eastern Kentucky. From the hills and hollers of Appalachian Kentucky to the shores of Lake Cumberland, volunteers are picking up roadside litter, cleaning up illegal dumps, and helping to keep Kentucky’s rivers and streams free of household trash.

In addition, PRIDE is teaching students and the region’s next generation of leaders how to be good stewards of the environment.

The PRIDE initiative was launched in 1997 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and the late General James Bickford, former secretary of the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet. Their vision was to restore the natural beauty of Southern and Eastern Kentucky by encouraging citizens to take responsibility for protecting their environment and by providing the education and resources to do so.

The PRIDE initiative is coordinated by Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, a nonprofit organization based on the grounds of The Center in Somerset. PRIDE serves 38 counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

To learn more about PRIDE, visit


SKED Southeast Kentucky Economic DevelopmentThe Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) is a non-profit economic development organization formed in 1986 serving 45 counties in Southeast Kentucky. SKED works directly with individual companies, their consultants and advisors to provide a wide range of services, including site selection assistance, incentive and business tax information, business financing, business advice and training, key contacts in business and local government, demographic, wage and economic data, navigation through local government requirements, and access to workforce training and recruitment resources

SKED was designated as a Certified Development Corporation (CDC) by the U.S. Small Business Administration. This designation authorizes SKED to process SBA 504 loans throughout the state of Kentucky. The 504 Loan Program is SBA’s economic development tool to provide small business financing and create jobs all across America.

SKED, located at The Center in Somerset, focuses its business service resources primarily on companies in the manufacturing sector, or high growth business sectors. However, through a regional network of economic development partners, SKED is able to help most companies find assistance for their relocation or expansion projects.

To learn more about SKED, visit

Operation UNITE

Operation UNITEOperation UNITE—which stands for Unlawful, Narcotics, Investigation, Treatment, and Education—serves 29 counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. The region-wide grant program focuses on three main tasks: creating regional drug task forces for interdiction, confiscation, and undercover operations; organizing local citizens’ groups and coordinating drug treatment programs; and working with educators to expand drug awareness and education programs.

Operation UNITE was launched in April of 2003 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY) in response to a special report, “Prescription for Pain,” published by the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper during January and February 2003. This series of articles exposed the addiction and corruption associated with drug abuse in southern and eastern Kentucky, which largely included Rogers’ Fifth Congressional District.

The non-profit organization, located on the grounds of The Center in Somerset, works to rid communities of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations, coordinating treatment for substance abusers, providing support to families and friends of substance abusers, and educating the public about the dangers of using drugs. UNITE’s goal is to educate and activate individuals by developing and empowering community coalitions to no longer accept or tolerate the drug culture.

To learn more about Operation UNITE, visit

Forward in the Fifth

Forward in the FifthForward in the Fifth, a non-profit organization located at The Center in Somerset, was formed in 1986 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and other leaders to work to reverse low educational attainment levels in the Fifth Congressional District.

The organization strives to engage community stakeholders to advance the value of education; serves as advocates to advance all education systems to improve educational attainment; and supports schools and stakeholders to secure needed resources to improve the quality of education within their local communities.

Forward in the Fifth’s vision is “that residents in the communities we serve will have the educational opportunities necessary to live full and productive lives.” Over the last 25 years, Forward in the Fifth has developed and implemented a variety of programs aimed at reducing high school drop-out rates, enhancing science and math instruction, improving school attendance, increasing the number of residents attending college, providing meaningful opportunities for parents and businesses to support education and raising the expectations of students, parents, teachers and communities.  In all its endeavors, Forward in the Fifth strives to bring communities and schools together.

To learn more about Forward in the Fifth, visit


NIHS The National Institute for Hometown SecurityThe National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS) provides an on-going, integrated program dedicated to (1) developing new technologies and devices through qualified academic research that protect community-based critical infrastructure and (2) facilitating the successful deployment of the technologies. By promoting collaboration among a number of institutions, NIHS offers a flexible research platform that matches research requirements with research resources. NIHS also focuses on the application of the product of research and development. Through its commercialization program, NIHS encourages technology transfer and laboratory-to-market processes that support the ultimate adoption of new technology and products.

The NIHS area of interest is community-based critical infrastructure protection. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines “critical infrastructure” as systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters. NIHS is dedicated to community-based critical infrastructure because most of this infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector. The infrastructure is not concentrated in one locale, but rather it is found throughout the nation, in metropolitan centers, in mid-size cities and in small towns or unincorporated villages.

NIHS was organized in 2004 through the leadership of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05). Congressman Rogers suggested organizing the higher education institutions of Kentucky to more effectively compete for research funds and projects aimed at improving homeland security. The Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium resulted from his efforts. NIHS is the administrative manager for the Consortium.

To learn more about NIHS, visit

Additional Headlines

Find us on Facebook