The McDowell County School district has struggled with a shortage of teachers and low teacher retention rates. Most teachers reside outside of the County due to a dearth of housing options. Reconnecting McDowell seeks to address this through Renaissance Village, its housing project for teachers and other County residents. Following asbestos removal in May 2016, a demolition ceremony was held on June 9 for the Best Furniture building in Welch, which will serve as Renaissance Village’s building site. This housing initiative will provide between 28 and 32 apartments with two bedroom, one bedroom, and studio design. Along with the apartments there will be a commercial space for a coffee shop/deli as well as office space(s) for rent. We believe this project will spur and facilitate economic growth in the community. View building renderings here.
The Broader Horizons mentorship program is a 3 year program generously funded by AT&T. The goal is to pair mentors with students who are struggling academically to engage with business, labor, government, education and social services leaders to learn about career and college options available to them through continued education.
Handle with Care was established to address the special needs of students who have witnessed a crime, violence or been subjected to a traumatic experience. Created by the West Virginia Defending Childhood Initiative, Handle with Care was launched in Welch, and subsequently fully implemented throughout the County.
The McDowell Board of Education and the SMILE Initiative collaborated to establish an oral health program, which was implemented in October 2015. Through this joint effort, students have their teeth cleaned and sealed by certified dental hygienists.
Community Schools address the social, health and emotional needs of their students to improve academic achievement. The role of the school goes beyond the classroom and provides the social, health, and emotional support that each student needs by working with community partners to provide resources and services. The school also serves as a community hub that is accessible to anyone in the community and can provide space for various purposes, such as a community clinic or career center.
Reconnecting McDowell was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Voya Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Voya Financial—a retirement, investment and insurance company. The foundation is committed to supporting and improving education for youth in grades K-12, especially children in underserved areas or facing economic disadvantages.