Project Spotlight!

The City of Benham, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and Christian Outreach with Appalachian People Welcome AppFellow Joshua Outsey

A community-wide energy efficiency program owned by and benefiting the community of Benham, Kentucky, is being developed and implemented through an Appalachian Transition Fellowship project led by AppFellow Joshua Outsey , the City of Benham, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and Christian Outreach with Appalachian People.  The City of Benham owns its own utility, giving the community the ability to be visionary and innovative in its path to a clean energy future. This fellowship will strengthen and increase community partnerships, assets, awareness and participation, providing a replicable model of a community energy program that includes a revolving loan fund for residential energy efficiency upgrades and an on-bill financing mechanism for retrofitted homes.

App Fellow Joshua Outsey

App Fellow Joshua Outsey

From the physical appearance of Appalachian communities—compare Asheville and Hazard, for example—to the individuals coming from them, the diversity is much more than my own understanding of Appalachia previously allowed. The spectrum runs broad: staunch “Friends of Coal” and disillusioned and disenfranchised coal mining families, loggers and radical environmentalists, hunters and vegans, people just dealing with the day-to-day and people trying to change what that day-to-day looks like.

What is the Appalachian Transition Fellowship Program?

The Appalachian Transition Fellowship is a year-long, full-time, paid program designed for 15 emerging community leaders who are committed to working in Central Appalachia for the economic transition of the region. Central Appalachia is defined as West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee, Appalachian Ohio and Western North Carolina. 

This program offers the opportunity to spend a year working within host communities to help foster cross-sector (education, nonprofit, for-profit, philanthropy, and government) partnerships, provide needed capacity to regional efforts, and build personal and professional skills. Through institutional placements, independently designed projects, training, and mentoring, the program gives emerging leaders and host organizations skills and networks needed to advance economic and social change in the region.

Central Appalachia is engaged in a period of economic transition. While the decline of previously stable industries such as coal and manufacturing bring significant economic instability, it also offers Appalachia the opportunity to focus on the long-term well-being of its people and its communities. This economic transition allows regionally-based industries to prosper while also protecting and supporting the environmental and social well-being of the region. The Appalachian Transition Fellowship (AppFellows) seeks to increase the connectivity and capacity of Appalachian institutions and leaders while building a collective analysis and seeding projects to change the systemic problems in our region, leading to a just and sustainable Appalachian economy.  

Introducing our Host Communities and Fellows!!!


Appalachian Citizen's Law Center, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC), and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) / Fellow: Eric Dixon - Whitesburg, KY 

Community Farm Alliance, Foundation for Appalachian KY and Foundation for a Healthy KY/ Fellow: Mae Humiston - Eastern KY

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC), City of Benham and Christian Outreach with Appalachian People (COAP) / Fellow: Josh Outsey - Benham, KY

North Carolina

Carolina Textile District and Opportunity Threads / Fellow: Willa Johnson - Morganton, NC


Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACENet), American Electric Power, Athens City Government and Rural Action / Fellow: Carol Davey - Athens, OH

ReUse Industries, Ohio University Voinovich School and Rural Action Zero Waste Streams / Fellow: Zack Swick - Athens, OH


UT Dept of Sociology and Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) / Fellow: Tom Torres - Knoxville, TN


Appalachian Sustainable Development and Virginia Tech / Fellow: Derrick Von Kundra - Abingdon, VA

West Virginia

Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and City of Spencer / Fellow: Adam Hall - Parkersburg, WV

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Mountain View Solar and One Foundation / Fellow: Tyler Cannon - Huntington, WV

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center (CMAC) and Corey Brothers / Fellow: Joey Aloi - Charleston, WV

WV Center for Civic Life, WV Community Development Hub and WV PBS / Fellow: Catherine Moore - Statewide West Virginia


The Alliance for Appalachia and Virginia Tech / Fellow: Kendall Bilbrey