© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News Partners

'Reclaiming Opportunity' In West Virginia Coal Country

In this file photo, a coal scraper machine works on a pile of coal at American Electric Power's Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)
In this file photo, a coal scraper machine works on a pile of coal at American Electric Power's Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

As America turns to cleaner sources of energy, the coal industry is drying up. And West Virginia, whose economy depended on the coal industry, is suffering. The coal regions of West Virginia went into downward spiral and the state now has the largest rate of unemployment in the nation, and the highest rate of drug overdoses.

A project called “Reclaim Appalachia” aims to address the issues of generational poverty by hiring unemployed young adults to rehabilitate abandoned buildings, recycling materials and training workers while they continue their education.

Brandon Dennison is the founder of the Coalfield Development Corporation which runs “Reclaim Appalachia.” He just won a J.M. Kaplan Innovation Prize for his work. He tells Here & Now‘s Eric Westervelt about how the program not only offers jobs, but aims to address the social and educational problems of its participants.

Guest

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.