Ky Education Commissioner new initiative

Dr. Wayne Lewis launches his new student ambassador initiative in Louisville. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's Education Commissioner stopped in Louisville Sunday to kick off a new statewide initiative for students.

Dr. Wayne Lewis says he was inspired by the Louisville-based student group Balling for a Cause. Kids who volunteer with the organization love to play basketball, but they're also passionate about education.

They canvass low-income neighborhoods in Louisville, passing out flyers and talking to parents about becoming more involved in their child's education. The group's efforts caught Lewis’ eye.

"I see a lot of myself in the kids of the West end of Louisville,” Lewis said.

Last year, Lewis visited West Louisville to spend time with the kids and learn more about their goals. He also canvassed a low-income housing community to pass out flyers with the group.

"That's unique for the Education Commissioner for the state of Kentucky to come into areas that are prone to violence and crime and get on the ground,” Community Activist and Balling for a Cause Founder Christopher 2X said.

Seeing the work the group was doing inspired the commissioner to launch new statewide student ambassador initiative.

"To engage young people directly in way like we've never engaged them before,” Lewis said.

He wants students to create and complete education-related community service projects to be performed over the remainder of the current school year. In March, Lewis wants students to submit a video and project materials to explain the impact it’s had on their communities.

"They are able to speak to their parents, to their communities, to their peers in ways to be frank that I can not,” Lewis said.

The projects should promote the importance of education. Lewis believes the initiative can help improve Kentucky's educational system from within, noting the state struggles with proficiency in reading and math.

"If we are going to make the type of progress that we have to make, with raising the bar, with closing the gap we need their leadership,” Lewis said.

Lewis will select five winning projects and invite them to an awards luncheon in April. Organizations can submit a letter of intent to participate online. That deadline is Jan. 30. Click here for more information.

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