ARC Awards Nearly $417,000 to Empower Student Innovation in West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania

The new ARISE planning grant will create a roadmap to help students innovate in their communities and prepare for in-demand careers across three states.

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13, 2023—Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded a $416,959 Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) planning grant to Mountain State Educational Services Cooperative for a project that seeks to empower and prepare middle-school students in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania to solve real-world problems in their communities through simulation and engagement. The project titled “Empowerment Collaborative: Increasing Student Empowerment in Appalachia” will result in a 4-year plan to expand the Empowerment Collaborative model into a total of six middle schools.

Today’s announcement builds on the $11.5 million in ARISE funding awarded to Connect HumanityEducation Alliance, and Virginia Tech, bringing the grand ARISE investment total to nearly $12 million. 

“As a lifelong educator, I know that the first step in building strong communities is empowering young people through innovative learning opportunities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Through this grant, middle schools in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania will be better equipped to give young Appalachians skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, and workplace readiness that they will be able to carry with them into adulthood. This focus on collaborative, hands-on learning only furthers my confidence in the bright future of the next generation of Appalachians and the ways they will positively impact our entire region.” 

“One of the best decisions we can make across Appalachia is investing in our young people,” said ARC 2023 States’ Co-Chair, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “Preparing students for real-world jobs means they’ll be able to find good-paying employment right out of school. This is an investment in our future and will bolster Eastern Kentucky and the Appalachian region for years to come.” 

Mountain State Educational Services Cooperative will collaborate with multiple partners to develop the project plan, including the Departments of Education representing West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, Marshall University and the EdVenture Group.  

The project is funded through ARISE, ARC’s new initiative to drive large-scale, regional economic transformation through multi-state collaborative projects across Appalachia. Using funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, ARC launched ARISE in August of 2022 to strengthen Appalachian business and industry, and to grow and support the development of new economic opportunities across multiple states.  A total of $147 million has been made available through ARISE to date.   

ARC will announce additional ARISE grants in the coming months. Learn more about ARISE and the recent updates to the application process:

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development entity of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 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.