$1.1 million from Appalachian Regional Commission to boost generational workforce development


The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has been awarded $1.11 million by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a new initiative that takes an innovative, multigenerational approach to workforce development.

The Career Opportunities for Appalachian Legacy (COAL) project will leverage the success of the Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment (CORE) initiative at Marshall Health to enhance workforce readiness and job placement for 400 individuals in a 15-county region across southern West Virginia over the course of the three-year grant. Using the evidence-based approach of CORE among a recovery population, COAL will work with individuals and families who have become disengaged from the workforce due to a decline in the coal and manufacturing industries, limited development of new industry and the pandemic.

“By taking a holistic, systemic approach to workforce development, the COAL project champions the health and wellness of individuals and families while creating jobs with competitive wages and benefits,” said Ashley Shaw, director of the CORE program and leader of the COAL project. “The success of this project has the opportunity to make a positive impact on families and communities for years to come.”

The project will directly engage more than 80 businesses to match participants with employment opportunities based on the employers’ needs and participants’ professional experience and skills. In addition, the project will also support entrepreneurship and social enterprise with partnerships that provide an apprenticeship model to prepare individuals for the workforce through on-the-job training while earning a competitive wage.

Likewise, the COAL will work to develop and support business cultivation alongside project partners including the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce – Jobs for West Virginia Graduates, Circles Campaign, Williamson Health and Wellness – New Heights Consortium, Unlimited Future, Inc. and the Reach Initiative. The project will establish partnerships across southern West Virginia, facilitate business education and training, host virtual entrepreneurship and social enterprise forums, sponsor mentorship for businesses and individuals for the development of enterprise and support local and regional business development incubators.

This award is part of a recently announced $47 million package supporting 52 projects, including a previously announced $1.5 million grant to Marshall University to establish West Virginia Grant Resource Centers, through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. The POWER Initiative directs federal resources to economic diversification projects in Appalachian communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries.

Photo: The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded on Oct. 17 in Frostburg, Maryland, $1.11 million to the COAL program at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine as one of 52 new projects through the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative.


About the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is a community-based medical school established in 1977. Located in Huntington, West Virginia, the School of Medicine trains physicians, scientists and other professionals to meet the unique health care needs of rural and underserved communities. Learn more at jcesom.marshall.edu.


About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.


Contact: Sheanna M. Spence, Marshall Health/Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, 304-691-1639, smith566@marshall.edu

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