Poverty in Kentucky

An ongoing examination of the issues from KET

The Price of Poverty

An estimated 800,000 Kentuckians live in poverty, from urban areas to Appalachia. To examine the root causes of poverty and possible solutions, KET has launched a continuing series on poverty in Kentucky.

The first installment of The Price of Poverty in Kentucky premiered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2013. A second installment focusing on the working poor, the middle class, and the minimum wage was broadcast in June.

Education Matters:
Meeting the Challenges of Poverty

A special edition of Education Matters examines how poverty affects education.

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Which economic, educational and social policies lead to academic success among poor, at-risk students? How can schools, families, and communities counter poverty's effects? The program includes visits to May Valley Elementary and John M. Stumbo Elementary, both in Floyd County, Fern Creek Traditional High School in Louisville, and Neighborhood House in Louisville's Portland community.


  • Roger Cleveland, associate professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, College of Education, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Eugenia Toma, Wendell H. Ford Professor of Public Policy, University of Kentucky
  • Terry Holliday, Kentucky commissioner of education
  • Henry Webb, superintendent, Floyd County Schools
  • Dreama Gentry, executive director, Partners for Education, Berea College

The Price of Poverty in Kentucky

The first installment of The Price of Poverty in Kentucky examines the causes of poverty, why they continue, and what can be done. Offering an overview are James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and Michelle Tooley of Berea College. Gerry Roll of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky shares her perspective on wealth and community building. Bill Goodman and Renee Shaw host.
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Bill Goodman moderates a discussion with the following panelists:

  • Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
  • Eric Schansberg, an economics professor at Indiana University-Southeast and member of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Board of Scholars
  • Councilwoman Attica Woodson Scott, Louisville Metro Government

Renee Shaw moderates a discussion about Save the Children's work in Kentucky with the following panelists:

  • Reid Livingston, Kentucky director, Save the Children USA
  • Courtney Trent, Early Steps to School Success coordinator, Save the Children

The Price of Poverty in Kentucky 2

Our second program looks at the struggles of Kentucky's middle class and working poor. Would an increase in the minimum wage benefit workers or stifle job growth? Our report begins with a visit to Owingsville to learn about the work of anti-poverty advocates there. Offering a personal perspective on financial hardship is Louisville journalist Jere Downs. Dave Adkisson of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is interviewed about the minimum wage. Bill Goodman and Renee Shaw host.
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Renee Shaw moderates a discussion on rural and urban poverty and the minimum wage between the following professors:

  • Peter S. Fosl, professor of philosophy, Transylvania University
  • John Garen, professor of economics, University of Kentucky

Bill Goodman moderates a discussion about the minimum wage, a livable wage, job creation, and education with the following panelists:

  • Jason Bailey, director, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy
  • Adrienne Gilbert, moderator, Take Back Kentucky
  • Richard Nelson, executive director, Commonwealth Policy Center and a Trigg County magistrate
  • Bonifacio Aleman, executive director, Kentucky Jobs with Justice