As America turns to cleaner sources of energy, the coal industry is drying up. And West Virginia, whose economy depended on the coal industry, is suffering. The coal regions of West Virginia went into downward spiral and the state now has the largest rate of unemployment in the nation, and the highest rate of drug overdoses.
A project called "Reclaim Appalachia" aims to address the issues of generational poverty by hiring unemployed young adults to rehabilitate abandoned buildings, recycling materials and training workers while they continue their education.
Brandon Dennison is the founder of the Coalfield Development Corporation which runs "Reclaim Appalachia." He just won a J.M. Kaplan Innovation Prize for his work. He tells Here & Now's Eric Westervelt about how the program not only offers jobs, but aims to address the social and educational problems of its participants.
This segment aired on December 14, 2015.