Building Community Resilience in Virginia’s Coalfields

Clinchco, Virginia. Photo by Brian Stansberry / Creative Commons

Appalachian Voices’ New Economy Program is kicking off a three-year community resilience project that will help coalfield communities address flooding, high power bills and other concerns. Resiliency is the ability of a community and its residents to survive and thrive in the face of economic difficulties, climate disasters and other hurdles. The work, funded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will allow five localities to invest in their long-term visions for a thriving community.

About the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Grant

In 2023, the EPA announced an award of $500,000 to Appalachian Voices for the organization’s Building Community Resilience in Virginia’s Coalfields with Place-based Climate Change Adaptation project. The organization is partnering with the coalfield communities of Clinchco, Dante, Dungannon, Pennington Gap and Pound on a three-year effort to map, plan and implement community-driven initiatives to boost local resiliency using this funding.

Overall goals of the project

  • Create community-based projects that contribute to long-term redevelopment and boost future community work
  • Develop skills and capacity within communities to grow climate change adaptation and resiliency
  • Create a Coalfield Community Resilience Model and toolkit that will aid localities in their own resiliency development projects

Through these strategies, the project addresses many legacy environmental justice issues including flooding, erosion and high energy bills and build local capacity through grant writing, grant management and trainings.

Our New Economy team will guide project development around six broad categories:

  1. Disaster Preparedness
  2. Renewable Energy Deployment
  3. Environmental Reclamation / Cleanup
  4. Community Health
  5. Flood or Pollution Mitigation
  6. Creating Greenspace or Outdoor Recreation

Project development funding, administered by Appalachian Voices, will support community projects identified during a series of community engagement meetings and a mapping process.

The concept was designed based on Appalachian Voices’ experience working in resource-insecure communities and developing the Appalachian Solar Finance Fund and the Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition mini-grant program.

Ultimately, our goal is to stimulate community action and increase regional ability to cope with stresses resulting from social, economic and environmental change, and we are proud to partner with Clinchco, Dante, Dungannon, Pennington Gap and Pound in this effort.

Everyone is welcome and we want to ensure that everyone in the community can participate equally. If you are in need of translating services or other reasonable accommodation requests in order to participate, please contact New Economy Program Manager Robert Kell at Robert [at]

Project Timeline


Year One

Host two community listening sessions in each locality and work with communities to map assets and resiliency projects


Year Two

Design resiliency projects while lining up funding and consultants for the community-created project


Year Three

Carry out projects and launch the Coalfield Community Resilience Toolkit with an educational webinar on how to use and adapt the toolkit

Round 2 Listening Sessions


September 26 at 6 p.m.


September 19 at 6 p.m.


August 22 at 6 p.m.

Pennington Gap

August 6 at 6 p.m.


August 13 at 6 p.m.

Round 1 Update

Round 1 By the Numbers

— Approx. 160 attendees

New faces at every meeting

137 stipends handed out

News coverage

Top six themes across listening sessions: 58 times “desire more outdoor recreation” was mentioned 59 times “concern for loss of businesses / desire for more businesses” was mentioned 30 times “lack of community / desire for more community” was mentioned 44 times “clean up town / dilapidated buildings or rivers” was mentioned 13 times “concern about flooding and runoff” was mentioned 13 times “desire for more greenspace” was mentioned
Dante meeting
Dante meeting
Dungannon meeting
Dungannon meeting
Pennington Gap meeting
Pennington Gap meeting
Pound meeting
Pound meeting