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Making a Difference: A Network of Community Support

The importance of community partnerships was first impressed upon Jim Allen when he was in his early 20s, fresh out of graduate school and beginning his career.

A photo portrait of Jim Allen in an orange patterned tie and suit coat.

Allen got involved with a YMCA youth shelter in downtown Louisville, and the experience gave him a better understanding that many children didn’t have the same advantages that he had enjoyed growing up.

“What I witnessed there really got my attention,” Allen said. “I got to see the resilience of these young people, and at the same time I gained an appreciation for my own upbringing.”

Forty years later, Allen is now vice chairman of R.W. Baird & Co., and his commitment to investing in community organizations, he says, has only deepened.

It’s also one of the reasons he’s a big supporter of KET, which he says plays a vital role in Kentucky’s communities.

“KET is a trusted partner and an important source of information and news,” Allen said. “KET’s programming enhances the lives of its viewers. And KET does a wonderful job of staying in tune with what’s important and bringing people together for conversations aimed at keeping the public informed.”

Allen also appreciates how KET’s educational resources and programs play an important supporting role, particularly in early childhood education, which he says is a pivotal contributor to Kentucky’s future economic success and well-being.

“It’s pretty well documented that students who start kindergarten behind tend to stay behind, making it that much harder to catch up,” Allen said. “KET programs are very supportive to early childhood education. And the programs teach children in fun and enjoyable ways, so they’re being prepared for kindergarten while also enjoying the process.”

The pandemic, and the disruptions it caused in school districts, further underscored the need for supportive educational partners like KET, which created online resources to support educators’ and families’ distance learning efforts, Allen said.

“When we think about education and whose responsibility it is, we can’t just look at our educators and school systems and say, ‘It’s all up to you,’” Allen said. “Rather, it needs to be everybody’s responsibility. It’s a collective effort—because if we work together, that’s going to produce the best outcomes. And KET is a very important part of that equation because its work with families, communities, educators and legislators helps us all come together to provide the best educational support system we can create.”