Highland Rivers Behavioral Health has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission to support workforce entry and re-entry for individuals in recovery.
The award is part of a $12 million package through ARC’s Investments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative, which addresses the region’s substance use disorder crisis with investments that strengthen services in community-based recovery ecosystems.
“Gaining a job not only allows individuals in recovery to join or rejoin the workforce, in many cases a job allows them to rejoin their community, to be productive and regain their sense of self-worth,” said Highland Rivers Behavioral Health CEO Melanie Dallas.
“This grant will allow Highland Rivers to build a network of local employers and other community partners that support recovery and want to help individuals sustain their recovery through meaningful employment,” she said.
The three-year grant will target individuals and employers in Haralson, Murray, Polk and Whitfield counties — all considered Appalachian counties by ARC — and will allow Highland Rivers to expand its supported employment and SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) programs. The agency will also partner with the Highland Rivers Foundation to expand peer workforce development and training.
Local partners who have already signed on to the effort with Highland Rivers include Mohawk Industries, Regions Bank, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the Murray, Polk and Whitfield chambers of commerce.
“I commend Highland Rivers Behavioral Health for their work supporting recovery ecosystems in Appalachian Georgia, which are integral to bringing our INSPIRE projects to life,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Highland Rivers is a great asset in our efforts to address the region’s substance use disorder crisis, and I look forward to seeing how they will help build a strong recovery ecosystem and a stronger workforce for the opportunities of tomorrow.”
Since INSPIRE was established in April 2021, ARC has invested $28.1 million in 83 projects across 289 Appalachian counties. The $12 million package for FY2022 is projected to improve nearly 450 businesses and prepare nearly 3,000 students and workers for new opportunities in the workforce.
Highland Rivers’ new grant award comes on the heels of a one-year $50,000 ARC planning grant the agency received last year to begin local recovery-to-work efforts.