Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

VCCSLogo-smallThe POWER Grant Initiative is a multi-faceted approach designed to address the impact of the decline of the coal economy in Southwest Virginia. The initiative seeks to build on the collective energy among workforce, economic, education, and community development partners in the region. Through the efforts of the core grant partners*, there are short and long-term strategies that will support and prepare displaced coal and energy sector workers for positions in emerging and promising higher-wage industry sector areas identified as part of the region’s ongoing economic transition efforts.

Starting April 1stindividuals who have been impacted by the decline in the coal industry could be eligible for the following services:


  • Job matching services, career coaching, and other activities designed to capitalize on current occupations in which there are skills crossovers between coal-affected and in-demand industries
  • Short-term training in the following fields:
    • 3D Design
    • Welding
    • Information Technology
    • Tourism and Outdoor Recreation and Entrepreneurship
    • Advanced welding
    • Precision Machining
    • Mechatronics
    • Work based learning or “Earn as You learn” opportunities with area employers designed to assist affected workers in obtaining new skills and work experience in emerging or in-demand fields.

    If you know a former employee of a company connected to the coal industry or coal-fired power plants, we encourage you to reach out to Stephen Mullins at or Darrell Blankenship at for more information. Spouses of former employees are eligible too!

    The POWER NDWG grant is a $1,900,000 initiative funded by the US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. The grant performance period will be from January 1st, 2016 through June 30th, 2018, and will serve at least 210 individuals affected by the downturn in the coal economy. For additional information on the grant award, please contact Alex Berry at

    *The POWER initiative includes the following programmatic partners: The Virginia Community College System (VCCS), the WIOA administrative entity for the Commonwealth of Virginia, in partnership with the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Area One (LWDA I) and the New River/Mount Rogers Local Workforce Development Area Two (LWDA II); Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development (VTOED); Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) and Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC); Friends of Southwest Virginia (FSWVA);  and the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM)'

Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 270,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.

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