5 Organizations Working To Improve Lives In Appalachia

The Appalachian region is filled with rich culture and natural beauty, but it's also plagued by enduring economic hardship due to decades of capitalist exploitation. The organizations here all work to support its diverse communities, providing services and other opportunities to restore and maintain the region's vitality for future generations. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Groups Bolstering Appalachian Communities

Organization Headquarters Location Mission
High Rocks Hillsboro, West Virginia Educate, empower, and inspire young people in West Virginia
LiKEN Lexington, Kentucky Build capacity to grow good livelihoods based on local assets, monitor community health and wealth to avoid boom and bust, and take evidence-based action for future well-being based on deep understanding of the past
AppalReD Legal Aid Prestonsburg, Kentucky Promote equal access to justice, encourage self-sufficiency, and empower and improve the lives of low income and other vulnerable people and families in eastern and south central Kentucky by providing them high quality legal assistance
Appalachian State University Boone, North Carolina Prepare students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all
Appalachian Wildlife Refuge Candler, North Carolina Provide care for injured and orphaned wildlife, support the wildlife rehabilitation network, and offer conservation education to the community

The Mission of High Rocks

North Carolina Groups Working to Protect the Environment

Organization Location Mission
NC Warn Durham Tackle the climate crisis by watch-dogging Duke Energy practices and building support for a swift transition to clean, renewable, and affordable power
NC Sustainable Energy Association Raleigh Drive policy and market development to create clean energy jobs, economic opportunities, and affordable energy that benefits all of North Carolina
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Boone Help build an equitable, sustainable High Country local food system by supporting producers and cultivating community connections that educate, inspire, and increase the demand for local food
Clean Air Carolina Charlotte Ensure cleaner air quality for all North Carolinians through education and advocacy and by working with partners to reduce sources of pollution
NC GreenPower Raleigh Improve North Carolina's environment by supporting renewable energy and carbon offset projects, and providing grants for educational solar PV installations at K-12 schools

Welcome to App State

In Depth

Over the course of the twentieth century, the land and people of Appalachia, the cultural region stretching from southern New York to northern Alabama, were ruthlessly exploited by the coal industry and the national economy it powered. As coal mining has become less profitable, the industry has fled, leaving a ravaged environment and chronic high unemployment. In response, many organizations have emerged to attempt to ameliorate the effects of this situation and improve conditions in the region. In no particular order, this list highlights some of them.

At #1, High Rocks aims to transform the lives of young people in West Virginia through education, empowerment, and inspiration. By investing in young people, the group believes it's creating a strong, vibrant, participatory community for everyone. Based in the town of Hillsboro, High Rocks' wide range of different programs are envisioned to provide pathways out of poverty and to contribute to the establishment of sustainable local economies.

At High Rocks Academy, young women are encouraged to step up as leaders through various educational initiatives. The Hub houses two student-operated businesses and hosts workshops, classes, activities, projects, events, homework help, and more. High Rocks is also the base for an AmeriCorps project that brings college kids to teach in the region as a kind of gesture of national service.

The Hub houses two student-operated businesses and hosts workshops, classes, activities, projects, events, homework help, and more.

In the #2 spot, we've got Liken, or Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network, which is an instrument for scholarly and community collaboration to build economic futures based on local assets, values, and vision. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, the nonprofit was incorporated in 1990 to encourage the flourishing of resilient communities able to create, sustain, and regenerate local economies in Appalachia.

The group is collaborating with many partners in the Appalachian Land Study, which seeks to provide accurate data about land ownership, mineral rights, and public revenues in the central part of the region. Protect, a film produced by Liken, follows the journey of twenty-four Indigenous and other community organizers through communities at the front lines of fossil fuel resource extraction. Liken is also home to The Kentucky Environmental Foundation, advocating for policies to ensure the state's environmental health.

#3 is Appalred Legal Aid, also known as the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky. The group provides free legal services to the low-income and vulnerable in 37 counties of eastern and south central Kentucky. It focuses on problems that affect clients' basic needs for food, shelter, income, personal safety, and pursues cases to win stability for children and the elderly.

The group provides free legal services to the low-income and vulnerable in 37 counties of eastern and south central Kentucky.

Appalred's Low Income Taxpayer Clinic provides clients with expertise and advocacy in resolving tax matters. The organization offers attorneys opportunities for pro bono service. Online legal information ranges from housing rights and family law to abuse and stalking protections. In addition, the group's website is frequently updated with news and relevant legal perspectives.

The #4 position is occupied by Appalachian State University, a public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains town of Boone, the school prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, sense of community, challenging academic environment, global reach, and low cost of tuition. With more than 19,000 enrollees, the school maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio.

App State offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors. For undergrads, options include Supply Chain Management, Public Health, and Graphic Design. Master's students can concentrate in the nation's premier Appalachian Studies program. The school maintains two doctoral programs, one in Educational Leadership, the other in Clinical Psychology. The school supports the creative and scholarly endeavors of faculty, staff and students through the Office of Research Opportunities and Resources.

For undergrads, options include Supply Chain Management, Public Health, and Graphic Design.

Closing out our list at #5, Appalachian Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit that coordinates wildlife rehabilitation efforts in Western North Carolina by providing care for injured and orphaned animals, supporting a rehabilitation network, and offering conservation education to the community. It was established in 2014 by two women with a volunteer advisory group of wildlife rehabilitators, a veterinarian, and various community leaders with expertise in several pertinent fields.

The organization's Wildlife Urgent Care facility expects to serve over two thousand animals annually. Its website includes a detailed guide explaining what to do if you find a wild creature that seems like it needs help.