Appalachian Regional Commission awards $14m in grants to help people in recovery re-enter workforce

By McKenna Horsley
The Kentucky Lantern

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced nearly $14 million for projects that help people recovering from substance use disorders to re-enter the workforce.
Across 11 states, 43 projects were selected to receive part of the funding through ARC’s  Investments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative. Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin offered her congratulations to the award winners during the commission’s annual conference which began Monday in Ashland.

ARC’s Gayle Manchin and Gov. Beshear present INSPIRE grants. (Photo by McKenna Horsley/Kentucky Lantern)

“Overall, these projects will leverage partnerships and collaboration to have a regional impact for Appalachians in recovery,” she said.

After the presentation, Manchin told reporters that the commission looks for projects that are focused not just on recovery but also beyond. Support may also come from the state and local level.
In Kentucky, five projects will receive a portion of $1.5 million of the INSPIRE grant awards. Gov. Andy Beshear, who is the states’ co-chair on the commission, presented the Commonwealth’s winners with their awards Monday.
“This epidemic has torn at the very fabric of who we are, and everyday you are out there fighting and scratching for the inches that become the feet that become the miles of progress,” the governor said during the ceremony. “And for that, so many of our friends and family members are still alive and with us today.”
Kentucky’s INSPIRE award winners were:
• Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, which will receive almost $500,000 to create the Essential Skill HUB project to train youth ages 15-24 and support adults, people who are post-recovery and grandparents who are primary caregivers.

• Volunteers of America Mid-States, which was awarded more than $465,000 for its Recovery Reintegration program in Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties. The initiative will give career planning, job placements with recovery-friendly employers and career advancement assistance. Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, Daniel Boone Community Action Agency and Kentucky Chamber Foundation are partners on the project.

• Love Must Win was awarded $50,000 for its Elemental Recovery Program, which will conduct a community assessment on service gaps and create a plan. Love Must Win will partner with other organizations, including Eastern Kentucky Recovery, New Vista, Kentucky River Foothills, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System, Eastern Kentucky University, Berea College and Kentucky Rural Health Association.

• Morehead State University will receive $50,000 for a project called Bettering Outcomes for the Second-Chance Employment: Creating Future Success for Employers and Employees. The project will include a research study and assessment of training, employment support and future hiring needs of businesses across five counties while collecting data from people who are in recovery, are formerly incarcerated or are experiencing long-term unemployment. Partners on this project are Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center, Gateway Area Development District and the Morehead-Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.

• The Thrive Community Coalition was awarded $500,000 for a project in Inez called Come Alive: Nurturing Recovery Through Training and Employment. Using an existing program with the Martin County court system prosecutor’s office, people who are near completing a residential treatment program or enrolled in an outpatient program will be referred to the Come Alive program which will offer services like peer mentoring, assessment and job training. Partnerships with local businesses will also be developed with the help of an employer liaison.

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