The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has announced Marshall University as one of 35 awardees for its $26.5 million program to expand and diversify the economy in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities through the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative.

ARC is awarding $1,499,175 to Marshall University for its Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment (CORE) Program, with additional funding for the project provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The initiative, led by the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will develop a regional system to provide job training and placement assistance for displaced workers suffering from the effects of the downturn in coal production and the opioid epidemic in southern West Virginia.

“This award provides continued support for the work already underway to create new opportunities for those living in communities hardest hit by changes in the coal industry,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas, who visited Huntington in early August. “These grants are a commitment to long-term diversification and economic growth in Appalachia.”

CORE is a large-scale project that includes three hubs, known as PROACT, that offer peer recovery coaches and job training and placement; six Drug Free Moms and Babies sites; three new programs offering medication assisted treatment (MAT); and a network of private sector partnerships. CORE also features the development of social enterprises to create additional sustainable employment opportunities for those in recovery.

As a result of the CORE Program, Marshall anticipates serving at least 1,500 West Virginians thanks to partnerships with multiple organizations throughout central and southern West Virginia, including the Region 1 Workforce Development Board, the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership and Coalfield Development Corporation.

“Returning to work is a vital part of individual recovery, and reemployment is essential in reversing the devastating economic effects of the opioid epidemic,” said Robert H. Hansen, director of addiction services at Marshall Health. “This support from the ARC and Benedum Foundation is essential to rebuilding our community and giving those in recovery a sense of normalcy.”

View the complete list of awardees, as well as more information about ARC’s work in diversifying the economy in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities, at

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

Originally from Sheanna Spence for Marshall University Communications