KEES Scholarship Program celebrates 20-year anniversary

Published: Oct. 24, 2019 at 5:05 PM CDT
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Thursday, officials met at Western Kentucky University to recognize the 20-year anniversary of the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program.

In 1999, the state began using lottery proceeds to fund the KEES program, to encourage students to stay in Kentucky for higher education. Over the past two decades, one in five Kentucky residents have received a college scholarship or grant paid for by the lottery, making higher education easier to afford for those who wouldn't be able to pay for it otherwise.

"There's a lot of different components to it and it is not only the KEES program but we also fund some need based programs. KEES was set up to encourage kids to do really well academically in high school. The better you do academically the more money you get to go to college," said Chip Polston, Kentucky Lottery Sr. VP of Communications.

"But on the flip side of it we also fund need based programs as well so that if a kid can't afford to go to college, there is money there to help them do that also," added Polston.

Over the past 20 years WKU students have been awarded over 180-million dollars in KEES scholarship funds.

"One of the things that this place has been about since its founding in 1906 with President Cherry's first vision was to be an institution of opportunity and access, and KEES enables so many students to be able to have a college experience they otherwise couldn't," said TIm Caboni, WKU President.

This program not only impacts WKU students but all Kentuckians that pursue higher education.

"Over the last twenty years and all of our programs it is over 3.4 billion dollars. We've been able to place and help kids go to college. It's something we're awfully proud of," added Polston.