Apply for ELI

Welcome to the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute Application Homepage!

The 2022 ELI program will take place on June 20-24, 2022 at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset. The 2022 application is now closed. For more information, contact Allison Cross at 606-307-0561 or

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 current high school freshman, sophomore or junior in high school
  • Live in a county 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 2022. 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.