Press & Media

Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces Funds to Support Local Economic Development Efforts in Coal Communities and Launches National Fundraising Campaign

Establishing a $3 Million Initiative to Support On-The-Job Training, Economic Development and New Career Opportunities in Communities Left Behind by the Declining Coal Industry

Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced funding to three organizations supporting economic development work in coal communities affected by job losses and industry decline. The funds will be used by the Coalfield Development Corporation, the Just Transition Fund, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils to provide job training programs, foster economic development and offer new career opportunities in communities affected by the decline in coal industry employment.

Technological advancements have dramatically reduced employment in the U.S. coal mining industry, from 223,000 in 1979 to 82,000 in 2008 – and the fall has continued in recent years, as coal has lost market share to cheaper and cleaner sources of energy.  While these changes have brought broad benefits to the country in terms of both health and jobs (nearly 500,000 Americans now work in the solar and wind industries), communities that have traditionally been dependent on coal mining have suffered – and governments have done very little to help them.

“The federal government has failed to help coal communities for decades, and now – even as their needs are growing – Washington is stepping back from what little they were doing. So we are stepping up,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “Through the new documentary film we co-produced on the coal industry’s impact on America, From the Ashes, we discovered several local groups in coal regions that are doing great work to help out-of-work miners develop new job skills and find new career opportunities.  There is a risk of losing federal funding this year – hurting former miners and their families and communities.  We’ve decided to support groups doing good work in this field – and to raise awareness of their needs, we’re launching a national fundraising campaign for Americans who wish to support them, too.

The groups receiving support include:

  • Coalfield Development Corporation: Coalfield Development Corporation, a community-based nonprofit working in southern West Virginia, is rebuilding the Appalachian economy from the ground up. Its mission is to support a family of social enterprises that inspire the courage to grow, activate the creativity to transform perceived liabilities into assets, and cultivate the community needed for real opportunity via job creation, higher education, and mentorship. Coalfield Development’s enterprises provide jobs and new career opportunities in sustainable construction, solar installation, mine-land reclamation, sustainable agriculture, and artisanship. Coalfield Development hires unemployed people, including laid-off coal miners, according to a 33-6-3 weekly schedule: 33 hours of paid work for the enterprises listed above, 6 hours of higher education, and 3 hours of life-skills mentorship. The result is real work experience, an Associate’s Degree, and renewed self-confidence.
  • The Just Transition Fund: The Just Transition Fund helps to create robust, resilient communities in coal-dependent regions across the United States by strengthening projects that align with the Fund’s commitment to sustainable economic development, equity, and energy resilience. In its support of frontline coalfield and power plant communities that are responsibly transitioning away from coal, the Fund aims to diversify and strengthen local economies, build resilient economies that prioritize people and protect workers, and promote clean energy policies and scale solutions. By convening a wide range of transition actors across both public and private sectors—including federal officials and philanthropic foundations—the Fund is an agile, proactive, and trusted collaborator in the complex discussions that accompany every exploration of innovative energy solutions. Guided by its conviction that communities have the power and wisdom to solve their own problems if given adequate support and resources, the Just Transition Fund is committed to nurturing the essential connections, initiatives, and momentum needed for transformative change.
  • Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC): WORC is a network of grassroots organizations rooted in Western coalfield communities in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado. From its beginning in 1979, WORC has championed land stewardship, the protection of water resources, the preservation of family farms and ranches, and ensuring that local communities have the opportunity to actively participate in the decisions that affect their lives. WORC is now engaged in building sustainable and prosperous communities that balance economic growth with the health of people and stewardship of their land, water, air and wildlife resources.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is also launching a CrowdRise campaign to help coal communities as America makes the transition to cleaner energy. When you make a donation to this CrowdRise campaign, it will benefit Coalfield Development Corporation, the Just Transition Fund, and the Western Organization of Resources Councils. Bloomberg Philanthropies will make donations to these organizations and will cover transaction fees for donations made through the CrowdRise campaign.

The Coalfield Development Corporation is profiled in the upcoming documentary From the Ashes, a new documentary produced by Radical Media in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies that provides a compelling look at the lives of people in coal impacted communities.

From the Ashes will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26. Immediately following the premiere, there will be a conversation with the director of the film, Michael Bonfiglio, and other special guests to discuss the state of the American coal industry. In June, From the Ashes will air globally on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages.

Donations to the campaign can be made on the film’s website, www.fromtheashesfilm.com.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.

Contact: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, 212-205-0182, rebeccac@bloomberg.org