ASHLAND, Ky. (Sept. 11, 2023) – During the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) annual conference September 11, states’ co-chair Gov. Andy Beshear and federal co-chair Gayle Manchin announced awards totaling more than $1.5 million to support recovery programs to help boost the workforce in Eastern Kentucky.

The awards are from the ARC’s Investments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) initiative. 

“My administration is doing everything we can to fight addiction and support recovery for all our families – and we are making progress,” Gov. Beshear said. “Last year, Kentucky was one of only eight states to see a decrease in drug overdose deaths, and we’ve increased treatment beds by 50% and have the lowest recidivism rate in our history. With more than $1.5 million in ARC grants, today we are taking another step forward on our mission to support those in recovery and boost our workforce.”

“At ARC, we know that substance-use disorder recovery isn’t a singular event, but a continuum. Both workforce training and ending the stigma surrounding substance-use disorder are equally important in providing a renewed sense of hope and purpose to Appalachians in recovery,” said Manchin. “These INSPIRE grantees are doing the important work to remove all barriers to entry when it comes to recovery-to-work projects across the region, ensuring that all Appalachians have a chance at a bright future.”

The awards include:

  • A nearly $500,000 grant to Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky, for the creation of the Essential Skill HUB project. Southeast’s Skill HUB will expand training and support for youth ages 15 to 24. The HUB will also focus on supporting adults, post-recovery participants and grandparents who are serving as primary caregivers. Participants will attain digital skills and certifications to help improve Bell, Harlan, Knox and Letcher counties’ workforce.
  • A more than $465,000 ARC grant was awarded to Volunteers of America Mid-States for the Recovery Reintegration Program – Lincoln, Pulaski, Rockcastle project. The program will provide career planning, job placements with recovery-friendly employers and career advancement assistance. Job training programs will focus on health care, trades, transportation, technology and other positions to be identified. The program will also include partnerships with Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, Daniel Boone Community Action Agency and Kentucky Chamber Foundation.
  • A grant of $50,000 was awarded to Love Must Win for the Elemental Recovery Program project. In partnership with Eastern Kentucky Recovery, New Vista, Kentucky River Foothills, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System, Eastern Kentucky University, Berea College, Kentucky Rural Health Association and others, Love Must Win will conduct a community assessment to identify existing service gaps and develop a plan for the Elemental Recovery Program. Through the Snug Hollow Farm in Estill County, this program will support recovery and workforce development in 14 counties in Appalachian Kentucky.
  • A grant of $50,000 was awarded to Morehead State University for the Bettering Outcomes for the Second-Chance Employment: Creating Future Success for Employers and Employees project. In partnership with the Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center, Gateway Area Development District and the Morehead-Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, MSU will conduct a research study and assessment of the training, employment support and future hiring needs of businesses in five counties. The study will also collect data from individuals in recovery as well as those who are formerly incarcerated or experiencing long-term unemployment. The findings will support future employer and employee training programs.
  • The Thrive Community Coalition in Inez was awarded an ARC grant of $500,000 for the Come Alive: Nurturing Recovery Through Training and Employment project. Through an existing partnership with the Martin County court system prosecutor’s office, individuals near the conclusion of their residential treatment program or at enrollment in an outpatient program will be referred to the Come Alive program for peer mentoring, assessment and job training. An employer liaison will also develop partnerships with local businesses and increase awareness of the benefits of second-chance employment.

This year’s conference theme is “Appalachia Rises©: Resilience, Strength & Transformation,” and the event brings together officials from many of the ARC’s 13 states as well as hundreds of partners and economic development experts. Together, attendees are working to strengthen Appalachia by creating and expanding workforce development, growing sectors like outdoor recreation, developing entrepreneurs and building leadership and community capacity.