Cultivating Leadership and Community Capacity in Appalachia

Investing in the next generation of Appalachian leaders must start now. In partnership with regional educational institutions, training programs, and community organizations, ARC supports a range of leadership and skill building opportunities for all age levels. From skill development programs for middle and high schoolers, to applied research opportunities for college students, to comprehensive leadership training for adults, each of these initiatives encourages the next generation of leaders to build careers, create businesses, and otherwise contribute to Appalachia’s community and economic development. In Fiscal Year 2020, ARC invested $14.2 million in 116 projects to build the capacity and skills of Appalachia’s current and next-generation leaders and organizations in Appalachia to advance community and economic development.

Learn more about ARC’s Investment Process.

Developing Current and Emerging Community Leaders

Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy

In 2020, ARC launched the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy in partnership with the Institute for Educational Leadership to cultivate the next generation of Appalachian entrepreneurs. This experiential learning program is designed specifically for high school seniors to build their skills in business planning, product development, idea modeling, and digital marketing.

Appalachian Leadership Institute

Appalachia’s communities need leaders who are skilled in communication, consensus building, and community engagement. To develop and support local leadership throughout the Region, ARC established the Appalachian Leadership Institute, welcoming its first class in 2019. The Institute is a comprehensive leadership and economic development training opportunity for people who live and/or work in Appalachia and are passionate about helping their communities thrive. The program includes skill-building seminars and best practice reviews to seed an alumni network ready to serve the Region.

ARC Oak Ridge Summer STEM Program

The ARC Oak Ridge Summer STEM Program is a residential, hands-on learning experience for Appalachia’s high school and middle school students, as well as high school teachers in STEM-related fields. Hosted by Oak Ridge Associated Universities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this program is a gateway to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the Appalachian Region.  When students return home, they’re encouraged to apply the critical thinking and leadership skills they developed in Oak Ridge to address challenges within their communities.

Appalachian Teaching Project

The Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) is an applied research training program for Appalachian college students to work together to build on community assets to shape a positive future for the Region. As part of ATP, students are enrolled in a for-credit academic course to design and lead research projects in Appalachian communities to address regional challenges. As a final project, students and their faculty sponsors travel to Washington, D.C., to present their work to other student delegations, ARC leadership, and community leaders at the Appalachian Teaching Project Capstone Symposium.

Strengthening Community Ability to Plan and Partner

To strengthen the Region’s economy, community organizations, local municipalities and nonprofits will be more successful if they have a strong strategic plan. ARC supports tools and resources to assist local and regional leadership as they collaborate to attract investments and produce greater impacts.

Investments in Action

BRIGHT Kentucky

BRIGHT Kentucky is an intensive training program for the state’s emerging leaders focused on advancing economic development in Kentucky.
Group of men and women in BRIGHT leadership course in front of blue sky, white clouds, and green trees
Leadership Kentucky Foundation