Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $3 million initiative in support of economic development efforts in coal communities affected by job losses and industry decline.
Grants were awarded to three organizations working to provide job training programs, foster economic development, and offer new career opportunities in affected communities: the Coalfield Development Corporation (CDC) in southern West Virginia, which provides jobs and new career opportunities in sustainable construction, solar installation, mine-land reclamation, sustainable agriculture, and artisanship; the Charlottesville-based Just Transition Fund (JTF), a coalition of national and regional foundations that supports frontline coalfield and power plant communities that are transitioning away from coal, building resilient economies, and promoting clean energy policies and solutions; and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) in Billings, Montana, which is working to build sustainable communities that balance economic growth with the health of people and stewardship of their land, water, air, and wildlife resources.
Bloomberg Philanthropies also is launching a CrowdRise campaign to help coal communities and will cover the transaction fees for any donation made to CDC, JTF, or WORC.
According to the foundation, technological advances reduced employment in the U.S. coal industry from 223,000 in 1979 to 82,000 in 2008, and while the changes have delivered broad benefits to the nation overall in terms of both better health and clean energy jobs, communities that have traditionally been dependent on coal mining have suffered.
"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," said Michael R. Bloomberg. "So we are stepping up....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."