Founded in 2010 in southern West Virginia, Coalfield Development has pioneered an innovative approach to rural workforce development. We create new social enterprises in coal communities devastated by the decline of that industry. These social enterprises then employ and empower formerly unemployed people through the holistic 33-6-3 model each week: 33 hours of paid work, 6 hours of higher education, and 3 hours of personal development. Examples of enterprises successfully launched include: renewable energy, bio-based manufacturing, re-use and recycling, organic agriculture, technology, and the arts. Jobs are created, but more than that, lives are transformed as our crew members become agents in the building of an entirely new, more just economy.
To protect our worker’s health during this COVID-19 crisis, and to prevent the spread of the virus, we have shut down our normal operations. However, we’re using smaller crews (working at least six feet apart) to help our community deal with the crisis. Our sustainable agriculture company (Refresh Appalachia) is shifting to a fresh-food mobile pick-up model to keep healthy food available. Our t-shirt company (SustainU) is sewing masks for health-care workers and donating its extra inventory of clothing to local hospitals. Our woodshop (Saw’s Edge) is designing and prototyping emergency beds in case of overflow. These are but small measures to help. However, they signal the kinds of resilient businesses our modern crisis-ridden world will need if it is to thrive in these uncertain times. We are working to continue serving our community while also protecting the gains against poverty that we've made this past decade.