Fahe: Building a Recovery-Friendly Workforce 

In 1980, Fahe was founded to provide access to workforce training and financial resources for locally-rooted nonprofit organizations. Its founding members quickly learned they could “go further together,” and has since grown into a strong network of 50+ nonprofits from six states working toward a more prosperous Appalachian Region by delivering of housing, leadership, education, economic opportunity, and health and social services.

In Eastern Kentucky, Fahe has long partnered with ARC to bring opportunity to those facing hardships such as high unemployment and substance use disorder, especially by helping families secure a safe and affordable place to call home. Now, in 2022, Fahe will harness their first ARC INSPIRE grant to deepen their impact through partnerships with local leaders, employers, and municipalities in Kentucky’s coalfields.  

In many Eastern Kentucky communities, Fahe Members are the only developers of new homes and often struggle to find nearby subcontractors. COVID-19 has only made access to these skilled tradespeople more difficult, with the pandemic leading to the closure of many local, family-owned construction businesses. The loss of these businesses and workers not only reduces the delivery of construction and housing development services, but also impacts the availability of critical on-the-job training and employment opportunities.  

Fahe is grateful to use INSPIRE funding to help rebuild communities devastated by historic flooding. It will take time and planning to recover.  However, Appalachians are strong, resilient people…By working together to rebuild the workforce – we can rebuild Eastern Kentucky.

Pam Johnson, Fahe’s Sr. VP of Innovation.

To simultaneously tackle the substance use disorder crisis and an aged and dilapidated housing stock, Fahe will use a $500,000 INSPIRE award to launch their 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.  

“People in recovery want a chance to give back to their communities,” said Fahe’s Senior Vice President of Innovation Pam Johnson. “Fahe has an established network of recovery partners and years of shared success to inform our program design and delivery.”

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.