Apply for ELI

Welcome to the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute Application Homepage! Summer 2020 program information has not been announced yet. Check back soon for updated information.

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. 

2020 Program Dates Have Not Been Announced


What do I need before I fill out my application?

The application process has recently changed and will consist of one comprehensive form that cannot be saved. The entirety of the form will have to be filled out all in one sitting. In preparation for your application, please have the following information ready prior to the application process:

    1. Personal information including basic contact information for yourself and your parents, address, phone numbers and email addresses.
    2. A list of extracurricular activities that fall under the following categories – leadership & entrepreneurship (in school).
        1. 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.


    3. A list of entrepreneurial activities that are non-school related.
        1. Entrepreneurial activities can come in many forms, and you do not necessarily have to be selling a product to be considered an entrepreneur. It could be something as simple as solving a problem that exist in your community. For this section please list activities (outside of school) that can be considered entrepreneurial. It could be a business you’ve started, a community problem you’ve helped solve, or other activities that have benefited something or someone as a direct result from your involvement.


    4. Essay: If you received funding to start up any entrepreneurial company you wanted in The Center’s 45 county service territory, what kind of company would you start and why?
      1. Essay Requirements: 1-2 pages double spaced; 1 inch margins; and Times New Roman 12 point font. More than 2 pages will result in a deduction of points.
      2. Please upload documents in a .docx, .doc, or .txt format.
    5. Your official academic transcript including your counselor’s contact information and your unweighted GPA.
    6. One letter of recommendation. The letter can be written by an individual who is employed by the school system you attend or by someone from your community who can attest to your skills in entrepreneurship and Leadership.
    7. You will need parental consent to complete the application. A parent is required to give consent at the end of the application.


To apply online: