On Jan. 21, the Appalachian Regional Commission began accepting applications for two summer opportunities for 2021: the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy (AEA) and the ARC/Oak Ridge Summer STEM Program in Oak Ridge, Tenn.. Both programs are free, intensive learning experiences specifically for the region's high school and/or middle school students.

The Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy, developed in partnership with the Institute for Educational Leadership, prepares the next generation of regional entrepreneurial leaders and thinkers. Chosen via a competitive application process, rising high school seniors from across Appalachia are selected to participate in an intensive learning curriculum designed to cultivate creativity, sharpen business acumen and develop skills essential for entrepreneurial success.

As part of matriculation, AEA participants receive tech support, materials, a stipend and other resources to participate in all aspects of the program. At completion, participants will receive a formal certificate of completion. AEA will be held in two phases — one virtually from June 14 to 25 and the second in person in Pittsburgh, Pa., from July 12 to 30. Changes to this schedule may be made due to Covid-19 restrictions. More information and application materials are available at

The ARC/Oak Ridge Summer STEM Program is a hands-on learning experience for Appalachia's middle and high school students, as well as high school teachers in STEM-related fields. Hosted by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, this program is a gateway to science, technology, engineering and math in the Appalachian region. Working with award-winning scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, high school and middle school students conduct guided group science, math and computer science technology research projects, while high school teachers work with science practitioners to develop STEM-related curriculum.

Many students gain their first exposure to applied science and STEM education through this experience. The program will be held virtually from June 19 to July 2 for high school students and teachers and June 26 to July 2 for middle school students. If Covid-19 restrictions allow, the program will be held in person in Oak Ridge, Tenn.. More information and application materials are available at

Applications for both opportunities are due March 1.

"Today's students are tomorrow's leaders, and the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy and ARC/Oak Ridge Summer STEM Program are opportunities for young Appalachians to gain the skills and experience modern leadership requires," said ARC federal co-chairman Tim Thomas. "I encourage students and educators interested in applying their STEM skills or students who see themselves running a business one day to apply for these programs."

For more on the Appalachian Regional Commission, visit

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