Mara Powell

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Collaboration of Grantmakers Commit to Addressing Kentucky’s High Rate of Childhood Adversity

Launches Statewide Initiative Named Bloom Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, KY – A collaboration of dedicated grantmaking organizations from across Kentucky gathered today in celebration of the launch of Bloom Kentucky, an initiative focused on statewide policy change that aims to prevent and mitigate the impact of childhood adversity.

“Bloom Kentucky is a first-of-its-kind collaborative effort supported by several grantmaking organizations from across the Commonwealth who are all invested in ending Adverse Childhood Experiences. As grantmakers, we care deeply about the health, well-being, and future prosperity of all Kentuckians. This initiative will directly result in positive change that strengthens families and communities so every child can thrive,” said Barry Allen, President & Treasurer of The Gheens Foundation, Inc.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic or stressful events that occur prior to the age of 18, such as experiencing abuse, substance use issues in the household, or separation from a parent due to incarceration. In Kentucky, the latest data shows that 22% of kids have experienced at least two ACEs—ranking 14th highest in the nation. Additionally, the Commonwealth has the highest rate of child victims of abuse and neglect in the nation for the third year running, and more than one in 10 Kentucky children have had a parent separated from them due to incarceration—the 5th highest rate in the nation. To address ACEs, we must also understand and address the community conditions that kids grow up in, such as the cyclical impact of poverty, discrimination, and community violence.

“ACEs can have multi-generational impacts, which means we need holistic, multi-generational solutions. Systemic policy change can influence every Kentucky community to foster opportunities for kids and families to flourish. We urge our state lawmakers to think upstream and prioritize policies and investments that prevent these traumatic experiences from happening in the first place,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, the backbone organization for the Bloom Kentucky initiative. 

At the launch event, Governor Andy Beshear and state Senator Max Wise expressed their support of the new initiative as they recognize the profound impacts of trauma on children and communities, and the need to take steps to effectively prevent ACEs. Bloom Kentucky also honored state and community leaders at the event for their persistent efforts to address ACEs and build strong communities, including:

  • Secretary Eric Friedlander, Cabinet for Health and Family Services 
  • State Senator Max Wise, Chair of the Senate Education Committee
  • Councilman David James, President of the Louisville Metro Council (not in attendance)

“ACEs have lifelong effects on health, mental wellness, and future earning potential. Working collectively from our cities to our mountains, we can reduce these impacts and ensure all of our kids can grow up healthy and hopeful. State lawmakers to local grantmakers to child advocates, all of us invested in the future of our community, we each will play a part in successful outcomes from the Bloom Kentucky initiative,” said Gerry Roll, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.

Bloom Kentucky seeks to cultivate a Commonwealth where all children and families can flourish by promoting solutions that improve the lives of individual kids and families, along with the communities in which they live. The initiative will announce its policy priority agenda for the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly in the fall.

Learn more at Bloom Kentucky is supported by a growing list of grantmakers, including Blue Grass Community Foundation, Brown-Forman Foundation, C.E. & S. Foundation, Central Kentucky Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Louisville, Community Foundation of South Central Kentucky, Community Foundation of West Kentucky, Felix E. Martin, Jr. Foundation, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, The Gheens Foundation, Inc., The Gilbert Foundation, Inc., The Greater Clark Foundation, Harshaw Family Foundation, Humana Foundation, James Graham Brown Foundation, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kentucky Foundation for Women, Kosair Charities, Lawrence & Augusta Hager Educational Foundation, Lexington Clinic Foundation, Lift a Life Novak Family Foundation, The Marilyn & William Young Charitable Foundation, Inc., Mildred V. Horn Foundation, Nickles Foundation, The Norton (Family) Foundation, Inc., Public Life Foundation of Owensboro, Snowy Owl Foundation, The V.V. Cooke Foundation, and Wood & Marie C. Hannah Foundation.


About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at