The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded $12 million to 33 projects through its Investments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) initiative. INSPIRE addresses Appalachia’s substance use disorder (SUD) crisis with investments in projects that create or expand services in the recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry and re-entry.
“The substance use disorder crisis isn’t solely a health and family issue—it’s also a workforce development issue, and thus a community issue. At ARC, we’re laser-focused on creating a comprehensive network of supports to help individuals recovering from substance use disorder succeed,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “INSPIRE projects are tackling the economic impacts of the substance use disorder crisis to grow the region’s labor force, and more importantly, provide hope and purpose for individuals in recovery. I congratulate the 2022 INSPIRE awardees and look forward to the many ways they’ll help our Appalachian friends, neighbors, and communities thrive.”
FAHE, a Berea-based non-profit, will use a $500,000 INSPIRE award to launch its Expanding Successful Recovery Workforce Pathways program. Two established recovery-to-work programs – the Housing Development Alliance (HDA) in Hazard and HOMES, Inc. in Whitesburg – will train and support vulnerable populations as they learn construction skills that can build up their communities. This program is particularly well-timed, as catastrophic flooding has only made the area’s need for housing more dire.
Throughout the next year, Fahe will identify potential employers, meet with recovery community partners, and conduct educational sessions on successful recovery-to-work models. HDA and HOMES will oversee enrollment and on-the-job training for interns, creating a 12-month workplan to complete the construction of two single-family homes per quarter. Upon successful completion of the program, trainees will graduate and be placed in full-time employment with employers recruited—and trained in recovery-friendly practices — by Fahe.
These INSPIRE awardees will support the SUD recovery ecosystem in 11 Appalachian states by developing and deepening cross-sector recovery-focused partnerships, expanding peer recovery support networks, planning and implementing workforce training programs, strengthening community engagement and wraparound services, and more.
FAHE expects 39 individuals will participate in the workforce training program, 33 businesses will be recruited as hiring partners, and eight communities will have trainees joining their workforce.
Other awardees in Kentucky are:
Discovering Destiny—Training Interwoven with Recovery
Millard College ($497,618)
In partnership with Addiction Recovery Care and Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Millard College will establish a community working group to provide training and workforce experience for individuals undergoing a recovery treatment program. After individuals have completed a 2–3- month substance use disorder recovery program with Addiction Recovery Care, interested individuals may choose to continue the recovery program and apply to Millard College for employment services. Employment services include two phases: job-readiness training to assist individuals with interviewing, resume writing, professionalism, ethics, and stress and money management; and occupational training through classes and unpaid internships. Participants will be able to choose from the following five programs: addiction recovery studies, carpentry, general studies, peer support, and welding. The project is expected to serve 100 workers and 10 businesses and improve 80 workers and eight businesses.
Music Heals: From Recovery to Workforce
The Appalachian Artisan Center of Kentucky, Inc. ($500,000)
The project will support the Troublesome Creek Stringed Instrument Company (TCSIC), a non-profit business entity of the Appalachian Artisan Center of Kentucky, to develop a recovery ecosystem to support individuals in recovery and displaced miners successfully enter or reenter the workforce in Eastern Kentucky. The project will expand existing recovery programs through the Music Heals program to broaden the geographical area served, increase the scope of services of the program to include a women’s SUD recovery program, and strengthen and enlarge the Appalachian School of Luthiery to train apprentice luthiers for employment with the TCSIC. The project will also provide currently employed and apprentice TCSIC luthiers more intensive training on computer numerical control equipment, behavioral health services and counseling, peer mentoring, transitional housing, onsite meals, and a fund for workforce reentry necessities.
Succeed, Thrive, and Recover (STAR) Program
The Center for Rural Development ($300,000)
This project will establish a new workforce development program to provide individuals in recovery from substance use disorder with job and vocational skills training and connect them to recovery wraparound support services so they can successfully enter or reenter the workforce and maintain long-term recovery. In partnership with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and local employers, the Center for Rural Development will offer training in the following subjects to persons in recovery: basic computer skills, essential soft skills, and specialized workforce training and short-term certification programs in targeted high-demand industries with immediate job openings—including electrical, plumbing, carpentry, industrial maintenance, commercial truck driving, hospitality, and food service, and medical billing and coding. The project is expected to serve 494 workers and 40 businesses and improve 400 workers and 40 businesses.
Raven Cares, Inc. ($500,000)
In partnership with the Kentucky Career Center, Raven Cares, and Maysville Community and Technical College, this project will provide educational and employment opportunities for individuals in substance use disorder (SUD) recovery in Rowan County. The project will also provide financial assistance to individuals seeking treatment and in SUD recovery with stable housing and healthcare. Project participants will undergo ethics soft-skills training offered by Kentucky Career Center. After completion, participants will transition to the Maysville Community and Technical College, where they will be supported with career path decisions or will be referred to the Adult Learning Center to obtain a GED. Alternatively, if the participant is prepared to go directly into the workforce, Raven Cares and the Kentucky Career Center will assist the participant in reentry into the workforce. This project is expected to serve 48 workers and 15 businesses and improve 48 workers and 10 businesses.
Project Renew: Revitalization and Recovery Through Civil Legal Aid
AppalReD Legal Aid ($500,000)
A critical barrier in the substance use disorder (SUD) recovery-to-employment continuum is the lack of legal services to address issues such as expungement of criminal records, evictions, and other barriers to employment that occur for this population. AppalReD Legal Aid will provide legal assistance to individuals who have completed SUD treatment and are seeking to integrate into the post-treatment-employment continuum. The project will serve 20 Kentucky ARC counties with educational presentations at jails and recovery centers as outreach to potential participants, legal assistance, legal expungement clinics, and referrals to employers and educational centers. This project is expected to serve 1,000 workers and improve 600 workers
ARC is expecting to issue a request for proposals for the next round of INSPIRE grant opportunities in early 2023.