WKU, Kentucky Lottery celebrate 20th year of scholarship program

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Officials from Western Kentucky University and the Kentucky Lottery gathered inside Downing Student Union Thursday morning to celebrate and recognize the 20th anniversary of the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program.

Since 1999, WKU has partnered with the state lottery to promote the KEES college scholarship program in an effort to alleviate many of the increased costs that students and families face today.

“Every dime in KEES money awarded in the Commonwealth over the last 20 years has come straight from the sale of Kentucky lottery tickets,” said Chip Polston, senior vice president of communications for the Kentucky Lottery. “It’s really made an impact all across the Commonwealth.”

It’s made an especially large impact on the Hill.

The KEES program has generated $184.9 million for WKU students over the last two decades.

“That 55 students at WKU have been affected and able to afford a college experience because of KEES is remarkable,” said WKU President Timothy C. Caboni.

The KEES project provides scholarships to students who earn at least a 2.5 GPA each year in a Kentucky high school, with scholarship amounts starting at $125 for every year that student attends a college or university in the Bluegrass.

The program was created to encourage students to stay home and attend school in Kentucky after they graduate from high school.

“It was looked at as a long-term investment and it’s really worked,” added Polston. “We’ve been able to keep Kentucky’s best and brightest students here to go to college in numbers that we’ve never really seen in the Commonwealth before. Programs like KEES really do help make that happen.”

Retaining high school students within the state has been one of the primary focuses of WKU, a reason President Caboni feels that they hit the jackpot with this partnership and program.

“KEES enables so many students to be able to have a college experience that otherwise couldn’t,” he said. “We’re proud of the partnership but we’re also working really hard to make sure WKU is an affordable opportunity for every student in our region.”

Some of the students who have received the aid of the KEES program were on-hand at the presentation, too.

“What an incredible investment that the citizens of Kentucky are making in that next generation,” Caboni said. “It’s an exciting day for WKU and four our celebration of our partnership.”

Since the Kentucky Lottery began funding the KEES program in 1999, one in five Kentucky residents have received a college scholarship or grant paid for by lottery proceeds.