West Virginian Awarded $250K as Part of Effort to Rebuild Appalachia's Workforce

Sep 12, 2019

The founder of a West Virginia job-training organization called Coalfield Development has been awarded $250,000 from the Heinz Family Foundation. 


Brandon Dennison is being recognized for his work to help address generational poverty in central and southern West Virginia.

Dennison helped launch the Coalfield Development Corporation in 2010, an organization that employs people for a number of projects, including Solar Holler, which is one of West Virginia’s first solar installation companies, and Refresh Appalachia, an enterprise designed to produce fresh, healthy, local food.

Employees with Coalfield Development spend more than 30 hours a week doing on-the-job training, and six hours attending community college for an associate degree in Applied Sciences. Employees also spend three hours a week committed to personal development coaching and life skills.

In a press release from the Heinz Family Foundation, Brandon Dennison said “most job training is designed to meet the needs of existing employers, but in Appalachia we have a whole economy that needs to be rebuilt and redesigned."