Funding OpportunitiesBlog

Hope Blooms in Appalachia: How Earmarks Are Revitalizing Communities in our Region

March 18, 2024

Across the vibrant hills and valleys of Appalachia, a new wave of hope is taking root, nurtured by a powerful tool: earmarks. These federally directed funds, also known as Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS), are empowering communities and local heroes to address long-standing challenges and build a brighter future. 

Make sure to check out our other blog, “A Guide to Earmarks for Appalachian Communities.”

What are earmarks? Imagine a senator or representative being able to directly allocate resources to support important local projects, like:

  • Providing families with safe sanitation facilities, as the Appalachia Water Project in McDowell County, West Virginia, did with a $495,840 earmark secured by Senator Manchin.

  • Expanding critical services for vulnerable families, like Maternal and Family Health Services in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, achieved with a $2.15 million earmark championed by Representative Matt Cartwright.

  • Investing in mental health services like the Cuyahoga County Diversion Center, which received a $500,000 earmark secured by Senator Sherrod Brown, to offer behavioral health treatment alternatives for low-level, non-violent offenders with mental health or addiction issues, reducing jail population and providing a path toward long-term recovery.

Stories of Impact

These stories of success highlight the transformative potential of earmarks, guided by dedicated local leaders and organizations:

The Appalachia Service Project, led by passionate volunteers, used a $400,000 earmark secured by Senator Manchin to repair and renovate homes across eight Appalachian counties, offering stability and safety to countless families across 8 counties in West Virginia.

The Mayfield Borough Project in Pennsylvania, with the support of Representative Cartwright, received a $2.32 million earmark to improve flood protection, safeguarding homes and businesses from future disasters. 

The Federal Valley Resource Center in Ohio, spearheaded by a committed community board, received a $594,000 earmark from Senator Sherrod Brown to repair historic buildings, allowing them to continue providing essential services like a food bank and community events. This project demonstrates the importance of preserving heritage while serving community needs, as envisioned by the dedicated board members of the Federal Valley Resource Center.

The Power of Community Support

These stories highlight the transformative potential of earmarks, but it’s crucial to remember that community support plays a vital role. Demonstrating community need and support through letters from local leaders, residents, and beneficiaries significantly strengthens an application’s chances of success. 

Your Opportunity to Make a Difference

Nonprofit organizations across Appalachia hold the key to unlocking the potential of earmarks. By understanding the application process, actively seeking community support, and collaborating with your Senator’s or Representative’s office, you can turn your vision into reality and make a lasting impact on your community.

Ready to get started?

  • Contact your Senator’s or Representative’s office: Their website will likely have information on earmark applications, specific deadlines, and guidance.
  • Gather community support: Engage your community leaders, residents, and beneficiaries to demonstrate the project’s need and impact.
  • Develop a compelling proposal: Clearly outline your project, its purpose, its alignment with federal programs, and your plan for securing any required matching funds.

Remember, earmarks are not just funding; they are an opportunity to build a brighter future for your community, one project at a time. Embrace this powerful tool and become a local hero, working alongside your community and officials to watch hope bloom across Appalachia. 

If you’re ready to make a difference, you can start by reading our Blog on Earmarks for Appalachian Communities or viewing the recording of our webinar or our PowerPoint here to prepare for the FY25 or FY26 process!