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Center of Excellence for Recovery awarded $4.9M

Old Main on Huntington campus
The Marshall University Center of Excellence for Recovery is the recipient of a $4.9 million award through congressionally directed spending requested by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.

The transformational money is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services and Administration (HRSA) and will further the fight against the drug epidemic throughout West Virginia. The center will use the funds to address mental and behavioral health issues in rural and underserved areas throughout the region. Using data-driven and research-based approaches, the Center of Excellence will look to improve education and access to behavioral health prevention techniques, early intervention, treatment and recovery services, and supports.

Amy Saunders is the managing director of the Center of Excellence for Recovery, housed in the Marshall University Research Corporation.

“Thanks to the unwavering leadership of Senators Manchin and Capito, Marshall’s Center of Excellence has thrived over the past several years and is now recognized for its ability to build bridges with communities to focus on implementing tangible solutions,” Saunders said. “We are appreciative of this opportunity and would like to thank both Senators Manchin and Capito for their confidence in the center and its work.”

The behavioral health project at the center of the award will focus on developing and implementing models of care that respond to local community needs and resources in rural and underserved communities with low resources, while utilizing evidence-based practice principles. Community members will be the cornerstone of this project and the Center of Excellence will work with both professional and nonclinical professionals, such as peers, and natural community helpers to best serve the communities.

These efforts will include community outreach projects through rural integrated care, a student pipeline into the behavioral health workforce, applied research and education, and prevention education program development. Staff members of the center believe these projects will improve the behavioral health workforce by attracting new students into the field and providing training and experience for current professionals and non-clinical professionals that will help them integrate behavioral health best practices into their work.

“The center is a labor of love for everyone who is involved with it – we are all truly passionate about the work we perform on a daily basis for our great state,” Saunders said. “We are in the business of building true ecosystems of collaboration and are excited to take this model with local communities to the next level in order to better serve West Virginia and her beautiful people.”

For more information on the Center of Excellence for Recovery and its mission, visit