On September 11, 2023, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded nearly $14 million to 43 projects through its Investments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative which aims to address Appalachia’s substance use disorder (SUD) crisis with investments in projects that create or expand services in the recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry and re-entry.
WCI Educational Foundation, now known as North Carolina Workforce Development Coalition, Inc., is the 501(c)3 foundation subsidiary of WCI, Inc. It is one of 5 NC award recipients. The project, WNC Recovery Friendly Workplaces and Wellbeing Initiative, was awarded $296,595, representing 55% of the total project cost. NCWDC will contribute the remaining 45% of required matching funds through in-kind services, marking a collaborative effort to boost regional recovery and workplace wellbeing.
The WNC Recovery Friendly Workplaces and Wellbeing Initiative will collaborate with local development districts, including Land of Sky Regional Council, Wilkes Recovery Revolution, sober living communities, recovery community organizations (RCO’s) and wraparound service providers, to build substance use disorder (SUD) recovery ecosystems in 27 counties of Western North Carolina. The project will facilitate the development of Recovery Friendly Workplaces (RFW); identify and support individuals in recovery for gainful employment; and coordinate the connection between employers and work-ready candidates.
Recovery friendly workplaces are those that actively promote an atmosphere of understanding and compassion toward employees and/or their families who may be in recovery or dealing with substance use disorders. They provide resources, education, and assistance to ensure that employees can thrive both personally and professionally. These initiatives aim to reduce stigma, increase access to treatment and support, and ultimately create a more resilient and productive workforce.
Fredrick Reese, CEO of WCI, expressed his enthusiasm about the grant award saying, "This grant is a tremendous opportunity for the NC Workforce Development Coalition to make a lasting impact on our communities. We believe that fostering recovery friendly workplaces not only benefits individuals in recovery but also contributes to stronger, healthier, and more productive communities. We are committed to using this grant to its fullest potential to create positive change in the lives of our workforce."
The grant, which covers a three-year period, will officially commence on October 1, 2023. The ARC's decision to award this grant underscores its commitment to supporting initiatives that enhance economic opportunities and overall quality of life in the Appalachian region. By investing in recovery friendly workplaces, the ARC and NCWDC are taking a significant step towards a more inclusive and resilient workforce, benefiting the region as a whole.
About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partnership 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.
ARC invests in Appalachia’s economic future by providing grants, publishing research, and sponsoring learning experiences – all to help the Region’s communities seize their opportunities, address economic disparity, and advance prosperity.
About North Carolina Workforce Development Coalition, Inc. (NCWDC)
North Carolina Workforce Development Coalition is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing innovative solutions for workforce challenges that promote economic growth in the state. Kit Roberts serves as the Program Manager for NCWDC.
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