HomeFrom the MayorAppalachian Regional Commission – July 26, 2018

Appalachian Regional Commission – July 26, 2018

ARC NEWS ROUNDUP  |  July 26, 2018  |  VOLUME 3, ISSUE 29


MSTI students in the Climate Systems Science, Modeling and Communication group improved their understanding of the components and complexities of climate systems, the roles of experimentation and data collection, and the design of effective public CSS communication.
Photo Source: ORAU

Summer of STEM

For the 29th consecutive summer, middle school students, high school students, and high school teachers from Appalachia participated in the High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute (MSTI) and the Middle School Summer Science Academy, two hands-on STEM learning programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Hosted by ARC, ORNL, and ORAU, the program provides students and teachers with direct and intensive hands-on science, math, and computer science technology instruction with award-winning scientists. High school teachers also work with science practitioners to develop STEM-related curriculum based on their research, which they can bring back to other teachers in their school district. This year, 26 middle school students, 37 high school students, and 15 teachers from across 11 Appalachian states took part in the programs. Since 2000, the programs have provided 684 students and 283 teachers with the opportunity to take part in real-world STEM research and access to learning experiences at one of the country’s leading national laboratories. Activities include lab time and visits to nearby industries, universities, and museums to see how science, math, and technology are applied beyond the classroom.

This year, MSTI high school students and teachers were divided into research teams to work on a variety of projects including building a supercomputer, learning and developing robot systems, climate systems science and modeling, 3D printing, and use of molecular cytogenetic tools, among other research areas. During the Middle School Science Academy, middle school students worked in collaborative teams with experienced teachers to utilize current technology to tackle a specific research topic and investigate it using a hands-on inquiry-based approach. On July 24, students and teachers showcased their work during a graduation ceremony. ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas, who spoke during the graduation, reflected how the Institute and Academy have made lifelong impressions on the students and teachers. “Every year, we hear from program alumnae about how their summer institute experiences at ORNL have helped them reach their academic potential and inspired a lifetime of learning and leadership,” he said.


Wirt County, West Virginia is  one of ten “Bright Spot” counties, with better-than-expected health outcomes, selected for an in-depth case study in a new report. 

Identifying Bright Spots in Appalachian Health

ARC, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentuckyreleased new resources offering a fresh approach to understanding health in Appalachia by focusing on community strengths and identifying local factors supporting a Culture of Health. Two new reports– Identifying Bright Spots in Appalachian Health: Statistical Analysisand Exploring Bright Spots in Appalachian Health: Case Studies—  explore how each of the Region’s 420 counties performed on 19 health outcome measures and identified the top ten percent of top-performing counties, which were labeled “Bright Spots.” The goal of this analysis was to identify and examine counties with a wide range of characteristics and resource levels that had all managed to find a way to be healthier than expected, given their health drivers and resources. Of the top 42, ten were chosen as a representative sample for in-depth case study exploration. The Bright Spot communities illustrate solutions that may be combined and replicated in other communities to enhance health at little cost. These two new reports are part of “Creating a Culture of Health in Appalachia: Disparities and Bright Spots,” a research series exploring health in Appalachia. The first report in this project was released in August 2017, and focused on  health disparities in Appalachia. A final report identifying practical strategies and policy recommendations is to follow next year.

As a companion resource, ARC, RWJF and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky also debuted,, this week. This website uses data from last year’s Disparities Report and offers customizable, downloadable reports, maps, and charts on 41 health measures at the county, regional, and state levels for the 13 Appalachian states. Measures include disease mortality, obesity, smoking, number of health care providers, disability, and others. To demonstrate to economic developers, community leaders, local advocates and others how this tool can be useful, ARC will host a tutorial on the new website this Friday, July 27 at 10am.

These new resources are profiled in the most recent issue of In Focus, ARC’s quarterly newsletter, focusing on issues and ideas shaping development in Appalachia. Be sure to sign up to get the latest delivered to your inbox.  


Early-bird registration rate expires Friday, July 27


Eastern Kentucky health stats are gloomy. Why are these ‘bright spots’ doing better?Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Kentucky

Pipeline training program to be held at UMWA center near Ruff CreekObserver-Reporter, Washington, Pennsylvania

Planned Mars Hill I-26 frontage road expansion gets needed fundingCitizen Times, Asheville, North Carolina

Collective Impact working on Appalachian Tourism StudyThe Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia

Appalachian Regional Commission Awards $185K to YBIThe Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio



ARC invites proposals from qualified researchers and consultants to conduct a large-scale program evaluation of approximately 385 water and wastewater infrastructure projects funded by the Commission in the Appalachian Region between fiscal years 2009 and 2016. The evaluation will determine the extent to which these projects have succeeded in achieving ARC’s strategic goals; inform ARC of ways to better encourage innovation as well as develop, assess, and manage water and wastewater infrastructure projects; and enhance ARC’s ability to document and report program impacts. Proposals are due by August 10, 2018.

Learn more and download the RFP here.

Map of the Appalachian Region
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.