Grants awarded at Appalachian Prosperity Project Symposium
Four research teams of faculty, students, and community partners were awarded venture grants as part of the first annual Appalachian Prosperity Project Symposium held at the University of Virginia on Friday, April 5, 2013.
Grantees will build new knowledge around topics such as diabetes prevention, access to healthy foods, youth development, and environmental education. The event explored a confluence of ideas and innovation to expand prosperity in Southwest Virginia.
The Appalachian Prosperity Project (APP) is a collaborative partnership among the University of Virginia (UVa), UVa’s College at Wise (UVa-Wise), the Virginia Coalfield Coalition (comprised of Planning Districts 1&2), the private sector, and the Commonwealth. This partnership uses a systems approach to simultaneously advance the inextricably linked fields of education, health, and business development.
In announcing the grant recipients, Pace Lochte, assistant to the President and director of regional business development at UVa, said “These projects exemplify APP’s goal of using classroom learning and research to address complex societal challenges, as defined by residents of Southwest Virginia.” The grants for 2013-14 are:
o The LENOWISCO Health Department in Wise, VA, will work with a team from the UVa School of Nursing to improve health outcomes by developing strategies to increase access to healthy food.
o The Town of Grundy will partner with a UVa Architecture class to design a new comprehensive teen center for the town.
o Students from UVa and UVa-Wise will join with regional organizations in launching the Clinch River Youth Coalition to engage young people in the cultural and environmental heritage of the river.
o Working with the Health Wagon in Southwest Virginia, UVa’s Office of Telemedicine will provide educational support for healthy eating strategies to those with or at risk for diabetes.
The Appalachian Prosperity Project emerged from UVa’s long-standing commitment to the health and vitality of the Appalachian region. “Our APP partnership is authentic and productive,” according to Marcia Quesenberry, associate vice chancellor for strategic planning and projects at UVa-Wise. “Working together we have made significant progress in improving access to health care in the region and have seen the power of this partnership.”
The APP Symposium featured a keynote address by Todd Christensen, former Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Executive Director of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation. Among the day’s events, Karen Rheuban, M.D., Senior Associate Dean of the of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the UVa Center for Telehealth led a session on telemedicine in Appalachia, and Jean Haskell, former Whisman Scholar, Appalachian Regional Commission and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia led a session on food heritage, place, and economy. Additional presentations and sessions covered topics such as 3D printing, diabetes education, and the Clinch River Valley Initiative, and students pursuing independent research projects related to Southwest Virginia also had the opportunity to showcase their work. “APP has already had a positive impact in my community. In the Town of Appalachia, we are bringing design faculty and students together with town leaders to leverage our natural assets and boost tourism,” said, Glen “Skip” Skinner, executive director of the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission and APP partner, "This partnership is definitely a win-win for the community and students and is bringing a new sense of urgency to the issues at hand.
The symposium launches a new generation of research projects and connections among APP partners. Ideas around 3-D printing applications, eco-tourism, and better health outcomes generated during the APP Symposium will inspire new directions for continued research and partnership.