Apply for ELI

Welcome to the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute Application Homepage! The 2020 ELI application will be available on December 1st. You can download the checklist below in order to prepare for the application. The 2020 ELI camp will take place on July 20-24, 2020 at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, KY.

The 2019 winning team for the ELI Business Concept Competition was “Team Econition.” Members of Team Econition “Protecting the Environment, One Shot at a Time,” pitched a new product idea for a biodegradable shotgun shell with the same effectiveness of traditional ammunition, but is environmentally friendly, cheaper, and requires no cleanup. From Left, Allison Cross, community liaison and youth programs coordinator at The Center; Autumn McCutchen, Clinton County High School; Kyrin Norris, Garrard County High School; Bethany Davenport, Whitley County High School; Eric Billips, Ashland Paul Blazer High School; Peyton Dabney, Campbellsville Independent; and Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center.


To be eligible to apply, the student must:

  • Be a high school freshman, sophomore or junior at a high school located within the 45-county service area of The Center for Rural Development. The forty-five county service area consists of the following Kentucky counties: Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Harlan, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Taylor, Wayne, Whitley and Wolfe.
  • Have a demonstrated interest in business, leadership and entrepreneurship.
  • Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4 point scale).


Selection Process

A total of 25 students from The Center’s 45-county service area will be selected for the program in 2020. A selection committee consisting of staff from The Center for Rural Development will be established. In order to ensure fairness, applications will be blinded and applicant names removed prior to distributing copies to the selection committee. The committee will review and score all of the applications according to the criteria and point values established for each section.

 The top 25 applicants with the highest score will be selected to attend the program. All applicants remaining after the first 25 selections will be considered as alternates and will be ranked from the highest to lowest score. If a selected student is unable to attend the program, alternates will be contacted in order of their rank until the open spot is filled. For this reason, all applicants are encouraged to keep the program dates and the possibility of selection in mind as they make their plans for the summer. 



Welcome to the 2020 ELI Application Homepage! Please read this entire page. Before you move forward, you need to complete the checklist below. If you do not complete the checklist prior to filling out the application, you will have issues. The application is an online form that CANNOT BE SAVED! The application page times out after a certain amount of time which may vary depending on the browser you are using. In order to prevent data loss, have everything completed in a word document and be prepared to fill out the application in one sitting.

Please complete the following checklist prior to clicking on the application. Download Checklist Here

  • Personal Information – name, gender, date of birth, shirt size, email address, two phone numbers, county of residence, address, parent’s names, parent’s email address, school name, and county of school.
  • Extracurricular Activities (55 Points)  – Extracurricular activities are defined as school-related activities that you are part of in addition to your regular classroom work. This includes school sponsored clubs, organizations, associations, programs, and athletic teams. This part is broken down into three categories: Leadership, Entrepreneurship (School Related) & Entrepreneurship (Non-School Related). You cannot list more items in each category than indicated below.
    • Leadership Activities (20 Items maximum)
    • Entrepreneurship Activities (School Related)  (20 Items maximum)
    • Entrepreneurship Activities (Non – School Related) (15 Items maximum)
  • Essay (35 Points) The future of Eastern Kentucky depends on its citizens creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem to support business owners with resources they will need in order to thrive in today’s economy. Examples of resources include incubators and accelerators from organizations such as SOAR and Kentucky Highlands. In an essay, answer all of the following questions: (1) If you were going to start your own business, what would it be and why? (2) How would it benefit your community? Download Grading Rubric Here
  • Transcript and GPA (10 Points) – Your official academic transcript including your counselor’s contact information and your unweighted GPA.
  • Letter of Recommendation – You need 1 letter of recommendation. The letter writer cannot be someone you are related to. While the letter has no point value, you will be deducted 5 points per if you do not submit a letter.
  • Parental Consent – You must have parental consent in order to fill out the application.Once you have checked off all of the previous items, you are ready to fill out the application. The application will be available on December 1, 2019 and will close on March 6th at midnight.