WASHINGTON, D.C., — Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded more than $9.4 million to 30 projects through INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE), an initiative addressing Appalachia’s substance abuse crisis by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry or re-entry. ARC is also accepting applications for a second round of INSPIRE grants, which will award up to $10 million to more recovery-focused projects.
INSPIRE awardees will support the post-treatment to employment continuum in 12 Appalachian states by training and certifying recovery specialists, establishing cross-sector community recovery workgroups, expanding peer recovery facilities, launching recovery-to-work programs with a full spectrum of coordinated support services, and more. Together, projects are expected to improve 2,367 workers and 336 businesses across the Region.
Two eastern Kentucky communities were awarded funding through the INSPIRE grant:
Project Title: Bridges to Work
Grantee: Kentucky River Community Care, Inc.
Award Amount: $500,000
Announcement Date: March 2021
Project Summary: ARC grant of $500,000 to Kentucky River Community Care, Inc., in Hazard, Kentucky, for the Bridges to Work project. Bridges to Work, a 36-month pilot community partnership, will establish an ecosystem of care that blends therapeutic counseling, workforce development guidance, training, work-based learning, and post-treatment recovery support services in two economically distressed counties in eastern Kentucky (Knott and Perry). It will create a unified pathway to employment success for reentering or court- involved males ages 18–34. The project will help redesign a system of care that has previously prioritized treatment as a stand-alone intervention. It will incorporate job skills and employment to create a holistic program that creates a welcoming environment for people in recovery returning to the workforce. The project will build on Kentucky River Community Care’s experience operating the Hickory Hill Recovery Center, a 100-bed peer recovery center that is part of the Recovery Kentucky addiction treatment program, and its partnership with Kentucky’s Department of Corrections. The project will improve 80 trainees in recovery and 17 businesses.
Project Title: INSPIRE Clay County
Grantee: City of Manchester, Kentucky
Award Amount: $50,000
Announcement Date: March 2021
Project Summary: ARC grant of $50,000 to the City of Manchester, Kentucky, for the INSPIRE Clay County project. The project will conduct a community needs assessment that will result in a strategic plan to enhance Clay County’s recovery ecosystem and improve workforce support for individuals in long-term recovery from a substance abuse disorder. The resulting strategic plan will identify assets and gaps in behavioral health services, job training and retention support resources, and other resources within Clay County. It will outline community-level strategies, partners, and funding sources to implement a plan for a recovery ecosystem that will improve community addiction recovery support services, strengthen local businesses, and promote a healthy and ready workforce.
To help communities respond to substance abuse through strong recovery ecosystems, ARC is excited to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a second round of INSPIRE awards of up to $10 million. Competitive projects should not only emphasize workforce reentry, but also employment retention, which includes basic and advanced training, soft skills development, up-skilling and clear career pathways to support professional growth for individuals overcoming substance use disorder. Proposals can also include plans and initiatives supporting employers, industries and community partnerships to address barriers to long-term recovery and reemployment, including transportation, housing and health care services.
Interested applicants are encouraged to attend a pre-application workshop on Tuesday, April 27. Letters of Intent (LOI) to apply for INSPIRE funding are due by 5:00 pm ET on Monday, May 17 in PDF form to SUD@arc.gov. The deadline for final applications is Friday, June 18 at 5 pm ET. Award announcements are anticipated to be made this fall. Additional information and resources are available at arc.gov/SUD.
INSPIRE draws on the work and recommendations developed by ARC’s Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC) to address the disproportionate impact substance abuse continues to have on the Region’s workforce in comparison to the rest of the country.
Created in May 2019, the Council is a volunteer group of leaders from recovery services, health, economic development, private industry, education, state government, law enforcement, and other sectors representing each of the Region’s 13 states. In September 2019, the Council offered guiding recommendations to ARC for addressing the workforce impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse epidemic. Many of the recommendations’ key themes were drawn from six Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions hosted by ARC December 2018–April 2019. More information about the SAAC and their findings is available at arc.gov/SUD.