An update from Lauren, our 2016 Scholar

In 2016, Appalachian Connection awarded its inaugural scholarship to Lauren Little from Hazard High School. Lauren is now attending Alice Lloyd College where she is a second semester freshman (although rapidly moving up classes!). She will be checking in on the blog occasionally to let us know how she’s doing:

I had a great first semester at college, and because of all the dual credit classes and hard work I put in during high school I am already one semester and a couple summer classes away from being a junior. My first semester has caused me to face challenges and overcome them. It was hard to find things to like because I missed home, but moving from Hazard to Pippa Passes isn’t all that different. It’s comforting to be in a place that is still like the small town I love. This new environment has allowed me to meet many new people. All of the faculty, teachers, and students I have had the pleasure of working with are exceedingly friendly and supportive, maintaining that small town feel. Many of whom congratulated me when they saw the WYMT feature where John and George presented me with the Appalachian Connection scholarship. Along with my scholarship I am employed through the work study program and a job outside of school. Thanks to this combination I will not have any trouble paying for my college educationAlice Lloyd is a tuition guaranteed school so no students have to pay tuition if they live in the 108 county service area; however, every student still has to pay for room and board, matriculation fees, books, and other such expenses. For resident students, this all adds up to close to $9,000, but after my financial aid and scholarship are added in the cost is lowered to a considerably more manageable amount. Without this scholarship, I would not be able to live on campus which would have taken away from my college experience, accessibility to the library, studying time for classes, and not to mention adding gas money and a two hour commute every day. I hope that people continue to donate to this foundation so that the Appalachian Connection Scholarship can help more students like it did me. 

Appalachian Connection featured on WYMT-TV

On September 7, Appalachian Connection board members John Cornett and George Fitz appeared on the WYMT-TV evening news, along with our 2016 Scholar Lauren Little, to talk about the launch of Appalachian Connection. Lauren Osborne, a reporter with WYMT-TV did a fantastic job describing our mission. A huge thank you to all the staff at WYMT for helping spread the word. You can see the entire interview here.

Here is a transcript:

PERRY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT)- Earlier this year, the first ever Appalachian Connection Scholarship was given to a Hazard High School student.

The scholarship was created by folks who grew up here that have since left the area, but say their mission is to help Appalachia in the years ahead.

John Cornett and George Fitz, who are from Hazard, are part of the effort.

“We’re seeking to connect students from Appalachia to higher educational opportunities,” said Cornett.

Cornett says two years ago he sat down with a classmate from the Air Force Academy, Patrick Farrell.

They started planning a way to give back to their home. So they created the Appalachian Connection, a $10,000 dollar scholarship for high school students in Appalachia.

“We hope that they further their education and bring the skills they learned back to Eastern Kentucky,” said Cornett.

The scholarship was presented back in April to Hazard High School student Lauren Little.
Little says she has big dreams for herself and Eastern Kentucky.

“This scholarship is going to help me be able to go to Alice Lloyd and get a pre-med and biology degree to go into the medical field so I can come back here and do great things for the people here,” said Little.

Leaders say the scholarship is for high school seniors in Perry County headed to a four year college.

Welcome to

While Appalachian Connection was founded in 2015 and awarded its inaugural scholarship in April 2016, our website has been non-existent. But that’s about to change. Today we are pleased to announce the launch of

Better late than never, right?

We are very excited to finally have a website to help spread the word about our mission to send bright, aspiring Appalachian high school students to college. We would like to send out a big thank you to the Appalachian Ministry Network, who generously gifted us the domain name We would also like to thank you for visiting and encourage you to come back often. Here are a few ways we plan to use our website.

  1. The website will be the portal for all things about the Scholarship and we will introduce the ability to apply online when the time comes.
  2. We plan to have annual events to help us raise money and, just as importantly, have FUN in the community. Check out our Events section to find out what’s coming up.
  3. Our past scholarship recipients will be checking in via Blog posts to let us know how their studies are progressing and what they are up to.
  4. Our Donors section will do features on certain donors from time, so that the community knows who is supporting us and why.
  5. We plan to keep an active Blog, that will feature stories and links to stories we think are important and show our region in a positive light.

Appalachian Connection teams up with Amazon Smile

amazon_and_AppConnIf you are an Amazon shopper, two small steps will allow you to continue shopping at Amazon and benefit our scholarship at the same time.

  1. Go to and designate us as your charity.
  2. Do all your shopping from and we will receive some of the proceeds.

Remember, you must use the URL whenever shopping at Amazon for us to receive the benefit. Thank you and happy shopping!

The Appalachian Connection Story

You may have already read our Mission Statement or Our History. For those of you interested, here’s a bit more personal info on how Appalachian Connection began.

What started out as an idea floating around all of our heads independently, came to fruition a couple of years back during a trip to Jenny Wiley State Park. John and Pat, who first met as classmates at the Air Force Academy, spent an afternoon in the state park, hanging out with one another’s family and catching up on old times. Pat, who is from Huntington, West Virginia, had just purchased a business that has a branch office in Hazard- Service Pump & Supply.

John began telling Pat about an idea he had been thinking of for some time. “I knew one day I would start some sort of a foundation to support a cause I believed in and hoped it would make a difference,” John said. “As time passed, my idea of a foundation transformed to a scholarship. By the time I sat down with Pat, I knew that I wanted to start a $10,000 scholarship for the students of Appalachia. I didn’t really know how to make this happen but felt that Pat could help and it would help him get further plugged into the Hazard community.” Pat’s response was clear. He was in.

John then reached out to his childhood friends, George and Trigg, to see if they would like to be involved. They had both been thinking of similar ideas. When John called they each jumped at the opportunity. “It was perfect timing,” said George. “We all know what the downturn in coal industry has done to the economy back home, and I had been actively thinking about ways I could help. So many people helped me when I was a student growing up in Appalachia and I felt this urge to give back.”

John reached out to his cousin Tammy, a Hazard resident, photographer, and graphic designer. She also came on board and the wheels were officially in motion.

Trigg, an attorney in Lexington, prepared the organizational documents. Tammy created our logo and image. John filed the application for 501(c)(3) status so that we would be recognized as a fully tax-exempt charitable organization by the IRS.

Logo_brown+green_stacked_w-tagMax Mitchell, a life-long resident of Hazard and Executive Vice-President of 1st Trust Bank, joined soon after and serves the important role of Treasurer of Appalachian Connection.

Tammy suddenly, and very sadly, passed away not long after the project began. Our logo, which represents the fusion of the mountains and the Air Force Academy’s lightning bolts, will forever be a tribute in her honor.

So that’s the story. We are just getting started but with our determination, and a little help, we feel we can build something that can have an important impact on Appalachia. As John said, “We hope one day kids from Hazard to Huntington will be attending college on our scholarship.”

Appalachian Connection awards its inaugural $10,000 scholarship


Lauren Little, with the Appalachian Connection board. (from left) Max Mitchell, Lauren Little, John Cornett, George Fitz, Patrick Farrell, and Trigg Mitchell.

Appalachian Connection is pleased to announce the recipient of its inaugural scholarship. Ms. Lauren Little, a recent graduate of Hazard High School was awarded the scholarship on April 22, 2016 at a ceremony at her school. Ms. Little will receive a grant in the amount of $10,000 to be used towards her higher education. She plans to continue her studies at Alice Lloyd College in the Fall.

“With so many impressive applicants, it was an incredibly difficult decision,” said John Cornett, President of Appalachian Connection.”We felt Lauren fit our mission of finding young people who will work hard throughout their lives to be a positive force in the Appalachian region.”

Besides an impressive academic resume, Ms. Little has had many leadership roles such as Class of 2016 President, Treasurer and founding member of the HHS theater department, Co-editor of the yearbook, and Co-Captain of the Varsity Soccer team. She has also been active in the community choir, Girl Scouts of America, Pathfinders of Perry County, Little Theater of Hazard, and HYPSCL rec-league soccer.

Lauren Little

Lauren Little

“When I heard I had won this scholarship I was overwhelmed and could not believe what I was hearing,” Ms. Little said. “It has been such a great help to me and my family. Now that I have graduated, I am attending Alice Lloyd College and have been accepted into the Honors Program. Receiving this scholarship allows me to pay for my room and board, while following a Pre-Med track.”

Appalachian Connection was established in November 2015. Its mission is to ease the financial burden of higher education for deserving students in Appalachian schools. Appalachian Connection is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization that provides scholarships to four year colleges. The scholarships have a value of $10,000 ($2,500 per year) and are awarded to applicants who demonstrate academic achievement, impact in the community, and a desire to utilize their education to help further our Appalachian region.

Congratulations to Lauren.