Eastern Kentucky groups get $5.5 million in federal grants

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) –  The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than $5.5 million in Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) funding for six projects in southern and eastern Kentucky.

The grants will be used to expand access to opioid recovery programs, spur workforce development, improve STEM education resources, and build a new neonatal intensive care unit in the region.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, preliminary studies show Kentucky’s opioid overdose death rate may have increased at least 30% during the first eight months of 2020, compared to the same time period last year. Three of the POWER grant awards will create important opportunities for recovery programs during this critical time.

The following POWER grants were awarded for programs in Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District:

  • $1,500,000 to Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation to rehabilitate the former Whitesburg High School for 22 units of transitional housing for men who are in recovery from substance use disorders. Residents will receive workforce training through the Letcher County Extension, Letcher County Area Technology Center, Southeaset Kentucky Community and Technical College, CANE Kitchen, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), and the East Kentucky Heritage Foundation. The new housing project will create seven new jobs and will have the capacity to serve 44 residents each year who are working to maintain sobriety, further their education and find a job.
  • $1,500,000 to Kentucky Dataseam Initiative, Inc. for a high school student IT apprenticeship program to expand in 20 Eastern Kentucky counties, impacting more than 45,000 students in Kentucky’s Appalachian region. At least 60 student apprentices will continue their education and/or obtain employment. Student apprentices will earn two industry-standard IT certifications per apprentice as part of earning a U.S. Department of Labor IT Support Specialist Certificate. The program also includes paid IT jobs for students in participating school districts, hands-on coursework, on-the-job training, and vital technology infrastructure to communities for K-12 education. Dataseam will also assist Morehead State University and the University of Louisville with identifying and recruiting students into STEM and STEM education programs.
  • $1,500,000 to Foothills Academy to construct the Foothills Independent Transitional Living Center (FIT) to deliver transitional housing, training, and reemployment services for young adults who age out of the child welfare system and have limited support networks. The facility will be located next to Somerset Community College with access to vocational and professional training.
  • $990,510 to Saint Joseph London Foundation, Inc. to create a neonatal intensive care unit at Saint Joseph London Hospital in Laurel County to provide medical care for 100 newborn babies each year. The Saint Joseph London NICU project will create 19 new jobs and an estimated 24 jobs will be retained in order to meet the needs of the NICU and serve the infants and families of southeastern Kentucky. This is the largest ARC grant ever received by the Saint Joseph London Foundation.
  • $50,000 to Gateway Area Development District to complete a strategic plan to improve workforce development across six counties in Eastern Kentucky. They will guide key partners and community stakeholders in implementing workforce training and transitional programs to fill skillset gaps in the region. Key partners include the Rowan County Fiscal Court, City of Morehead, TENCO Workforce Development Board, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Maysville Community and Technical College and Morehead State University.
  • $6,320 to EKY Heritage Foundation in Whitesburg for a feasibility study to examine the viability of Tiny House manufacturing in Letcher County. In collaboration with HOMES, Inc., FAHE and Addiction Recovery, the foundation will also examine second chance employment opportunities for individuals in addiction recovery, providing them with vocational training and jobs to build tiny houses.
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