Crystal Snyder

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

Several federally funded job-training programs have emerged in recent years designed to help revitalize coal country. In 2017 alone, the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership focused on economic development since the mid-1960s, approved more than $150 million in projects for the region. But how successful are these programs, and what are the challenges?

"Jobs aren't a silver bullet," says Coalfield Development Corporation CEO Brandon Dennison.

But they are a good start.

Dennison's social enterprise has helped 100 percent of its first 30 graduates find employment or further their education. Now, it's hoping to repeat that success with 50 employees.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the out-migration of people leaving Appalachia is nothing new. Folks have been heading for the cities elsewhere for generations to find work and new opportunities.

Still, there are a few here who are determined to stay. But for them, staying is also a struggle. That’s why West Virginia Public Broadcasting and our podcast Inside Appalachia have been following six people for about a year to see how they are managing to stay… and if they can find a way to support their family here in Appalachia.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In our ongoing Struggle to Stay series, we’ve been following Crystal Snyder, who works at a job-training program called Refresh Appalachia. She’s learning how to grow squash and shiitake mushrooms, while also going to a community college, working on her associate’s degree in Applied Science.