ARC’s INSPIRE Initiative

The INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative is a $10 million initiative addressing the substance use disorder crisis by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem that will lead to workforce entry or re-entry. Successful projects will support the post-treatment to employment continuum, which could include investments in healthcare networks that support substance use disorder recovery professionals, recovery-focused job training programs, as well as initiatives designed to coordinate, or link, recovery services and training that support the recovery ecosystem, among others. Since INSPIRE was established in April 2021, ARC has invested more than $16.5 million in 51 projects in 197 Appalachian counties.

In November 2021, ARC awarded $5.5 million to 17 projects across the Region. These INSPIRE awardees will support the SUD recovery-to-employment continuum in seven Appalachian states by training and certifying recovery specialists, establishing cross-sector community recovery partnerships, expanding peer recovery support networks, launching recovery-to-work programs with a full spectrum of coordinated support services, and more.

ARC Recovery Ecosystem Model

The recovery ecosystem, within the context of building and strengthening economically resilient communities in Appalachia, is a complex linkage of multiple sectors, including but not limited to recovery communities, peer support, health, human services, faith communities, criminal justice, public safety, housing, transportation, education, and employers. The goal of the recovery ecosystem is to help individuals in recovery access the support services and training they need to maintain recovery and successfully obtain sustainable employment.

INSPIRE’s Impact in Appalachia

Businesses Improved
Students and Workers Improved

INSPIRE Awardees

Since April 2021, ARC has invested $15.7 million in 49 INSPIRE projects that address Appalachia’s substance use disorder crisis by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry or re-entry.

Substance Use Disorder is a Workforce Development Issue

In 2018, Appalachia had an overdose mortality rate among people ages 25–54 was 43 percent higher in the Region than the rest of the country. Those struggling with recovery from substance use disorders often encounter numerous barriers to entering, or re-entering, the workforce. Together, these factors can have significant impact of workforce potential and economic growth.

In 2019, ARC seated the Substance Use Disorder Advisory Council (SAAC) to address the disproportionate impact substance use disorder continues to have on the Region’s workforce in comparison to the rest of the country. 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 use disorder epidemic. Many of the recommendations’ key themes were drawn from six Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions hosted by ARC December 2018–April 2019.

For questions about the INSPIRE Initiative, please email

Investments in Action

Lisa Bright: Breaking Barriers to Recovery

When Will Bright passed away in 2014 from a drug overdose, his mother, Lisa Bright, knew she had to turn her pain into purpose for others.

Additional Research and Data Resources