ARC Awards $9.4 Million to 30 Projects Addressing Substance Abuse Crisis, Seeks Applicants for Second Round of Funding

INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative Focuses on Recovery-to-Work Efforts as Part of Recovery Ecosystem

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1, 2021—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.

“Addressing the toll that the substance abuse crisis has had on economic opportunity in the Region has been a priority since my arrival at ARC,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “That is why I am excited about today’s announcement, and the impact these investments will have as we work together to build and strengthen recovery ecosystems in Appalachia. The projects announced today will help individuals in recovery obtain sustainable employment, further encouraging economic resiliency in the communities that will be served. As we look to the second round of this funding initiative, I encourage all interested applicants in the Region to send us your ideas.”

The nation’s substance abuse crisis disproportionately impacts Appalachia, where in 2018 the overdose mortality rate for people ages 25–54 was 43 percent higher in the Region than the rest of the country. The devastating health impacts of this crisis also have severe economic impacts, keeping many Appalachians of prime working age from participating in the labor force and contributing to the Region’s economic growth.

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 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

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

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.