SOAR awards Mini Grants through collaboration with BB&T

Manchester Memorial Hospital.JPG

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) announced the recipients of its Mini-Grant program during the 2017 SOAR Summit on Friday, August 4 at the East Kentucky Expo Center.

Organizations applied for the grant through SOAR’s innovative network ( which allows individuals and organizations to network and provide solutions that align with SOAR’s Regional Blueprint.  Focus areas of the Regional Blueprint are: Broadband Infrastructure Expansion, 21st Century Workforce, Small Business in the Digital Economy, Healthy Communities, Industrial Development, Regional Food Systems and Regional Tourism Development.

The Mini-Grant program was available through the generous support of BB&T Bank and the proceeds from the second-annual SOAR 5K.  This year, SOAR awarded 11 organizations with grants.  Ten recipients received $1,000 and Manchester memorial Hospital’s Telehealth program was named the top solution and awarded $2,000.

“I want to thank BB&T for their support of this project,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “It is important that we have meaningful dialogue among those people working on the frontlines of transformation in Appalachian Kentucky.  The allows like-minded people and organizations to share ideas, innovate and collaborate.”

Here’s a breakdown of this year’s recipients:

Manchester Memorial Hospital’s Telehealth Program | This program, administered by Manchester Memorial Hospital, will serve the people of Clay, Owsley, Jackson and Leslie counties.  Funds will be used to purchase equipment necessary to deploy a Telehealth Clinic in the Lee County School District, and a Tele-ICU and Tele-ED on the main campus of the hospital, as well as a Tele-Neuro in a Rural Health Clinic.

Last Mile Fiber Infrastructure Regional Forums/Boards | This project will focus on Letcher and Perry counties and create community-based groups that identify, quantify and prioritize broadband infrastructure needs. The funds will be used to help equip a community facility with computers and connectivity necessary to teach community courses.

Paths2Promise | This program, which serves Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley counties, assists unemployed or low-wage SNAP recipients find work or increase earnings and/or advance in their workplace.  Funding will be used to host an appreciation event in the eight-county service area, which is part of the Kentucky Promise Zone, for program staff and participants to highlight participant success.

America’s Entrepreneurial Schools and Colleges | America’s Entrepreneurial Schools and Colleges aims to drive the next generation of Appalachia’s workforce to see beyond their economic situation and to create their own business.  The program, which is in Bell, Breathitt, Harlan, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Martin, Magoffin, Perry and Pike counties, is administered by EntreEd.  Funding will be used to provide scholarships to two teachers to attend the EntreEd Forum, which will highlight how teachers can use entrepreneurship resources in the classroom.

Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center | The center, located in Pike County, will use funding to implement a new curriculum, “Special Circumstances,” which focuses on how drugs and alcohol affect pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome, child abuse/neglect and adoption options.  This would include hosting a monthly “Girls Night Out” program which will serve as an educational tool to deploy the curriculum over a length of time.

Cultivating a Culture of Health in Appalachia | The program, which serves Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup, Lawrence and Lewis counties, is affiliated with Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.  Funding will be used to administer health-risk assessments, including biometric screenings, and expand efforts to assist more businesses in developing solutions to improve the health of their workforce and reduce healthcare expenses.

Community Health Initiatives | This program is administered by Community Farm Alliance and serves Knox, Harlan, Jackson, Magoffin and Pike counties.  Funds will be used to create new and support existing initiatives that combine health benefits of locally-sourced produce and community fitness projects with the economic impact of farmers’ markets. 

Homeplace Clinic | The Homeplace Clinic serves Lawrence, Johnson, Floyd and Pike counties.  Funds will be used to establish a Homes Fund, which would allow case managers resources to purchase hygiene products, provide rental assistance and overnight hotel stays (if necessary).

Teleworks USA | This program is administered by the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. and serves Bell, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Wolfe counties. Funds will be used to create a scholarship fund for participants utilizing co-working space at one of seven TeleworksUSA hubs across their service area.

Pikeville Farmers Market Production Initiatives | This project will serve Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Letcher and Pike counties and is part of a consortium which includes the Pikeville Farmers Market, the University of Pikeville, USDA, NRCS (Natural Resources and Conservation Services), FSA (Farm Services Administration), Pike County Cooperative Extension, Kentucky State University, University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversity, University of Kentucky Food Innovation Center, and Community Farm Alliance.  The funding will be used to create opportunities for five current producers and three new producers to receive no-cost NRCS high tunnels to improve production.

Himler Project | This project, based in Martin County, will help fund the restoration of Hungarian immigrant Martin Himler’s home and help ensure the home as a national landmark.