Thirteen Appalachian-based colleges and universities teach community-based economic revitalization initiatives to future leaders

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. It focuses on revitalizing 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.

On November 13 and 14, 2020 ARC hosted 150 students from 13 Appalachian-based colleges and universities at the 20th annual Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) Conference.

ATP is an applied-research academic program training college and graduate students to design community-based economic revitalization initiatives across Appalachia. As part of ATP, students enroll in a for-credit course and conduct field research to identify and solve a community development issue during the fall semester.

As a capstone to this work, students present their work to other student delegations from ATP participating institutions, ARC leadership, and community leaders in a formal peer-to-peer conference setting hosted by ARC.

For 19 years, this conference was held in Washington, DC, where students used the trip as an opportunity to meet with policy leaders and learn more about the city. This year, due to COVID-19 crisis, the ATP Symposium was held online.

Students have had to face unprecedented obstacles this year, and I am pleased that so many have participated in this important program that focuses on benefitting the people of the Appalachian Region by designing innovative economic development projects,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “The 13 institutions participating in this year’s program are key partners developing the next generation of Appalachian leaders.”

Student delegations from the following schools participating in this year’s ATP will give presentations focusing on substance abuse disorder and the economy; community development during the COVID crisis; and asset development as an economic development strategy in Appalachia:

  • Alfred State College, Alfred, New York
  • Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
  • East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Fairmont State University, Fairmont, West Virginia
  • Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pennsylvania
  • Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
  • Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Cumberland, Kentucky
  • Union College, Barbourville, Kentucky
  • University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, Georgia
  • University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Bradford, Pennsylvania
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

Since 2001, over 2,500 college and graduate students from across Appalachia have participated in the Appalachian Teaching Project. Many ATP alumnae have gone on to careers in public service, community development, and other related fields across the Region.

Summaries of each research project are available at ATP is one of four academies and institutes sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Through these experiential learning opportunities, participants build networks, hone skills, and cultivate an enduring commitment to Appalachia’s future.

Supported by ARC and organized by the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), students receive college credit for participating in ATP, and schools participating in ATP offer a directed seminar guiding students in developing and executing field-based research projects specific to the needs of their surrounding communities and in alignment with ARC’s investment priorities.

Photo of Fayette Station Bridge in New Haven, West Virginia is by 272447 from Pixabay.

See Appalachian Regional Commission website.

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