Who is CAN?
Since 1992, the Central Appalachian Network (CAN) has worked for a more just and sustainable economy for all in our region. As a network of nonprofit organizations, CAN works primarily in five states: Kentucky, southeast Ohio, southwest Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and West Virginia. Multistate collaboration allows for a regional view of the current needs and future trajectories of the Central Appalachian economy, enabling strategic focus on large-scale goals that make both deep local impacts and broad regional impacts. Our diverse participant and mentor organizations employ a variety of strategies that help to strengthen communities, diversify economies, and guide an economic transition to make our region more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable.
CAN is a network of networks led by a Leadership Team comprising a cohort of mentor organizations alongside the co-chairs of each Working Group. The Working Groups are sector-focused networks that coordinate regional analysis and strategies in areas such as Clean Energy; Food and Sustainable Agricultural Systems; Reuse (Materials management and circular economy); and Ecological Restoration. The larger Central Appalachian Network includes the participants of these sector-based Working Groups, along with an open invitation to those that wish to engage CAN in their own work and community.
Our network of practitioner partners includes nearly 100 different organizations working on community economic development, including nonprofits, local government agencies, lenders, community groups, social enterprises, and academic institutions. These networks are leading the charge in transitioning Central Appalachia’s economy by creating economic opportunities that are environmentally sustainable, building on our cultural assets and natural resources, and meeting the needs of our region’s people.
CAN also support organizational development, capacity-building, and peer mentoring among the region’s nonprofits and community groups. We do this through an annual Small Grants program, peer networking activities, and sharing of tools and resources.
CAN is currently exploring new ways of working that connect and strengthen sustainable development actors around the region to build shared analysis and strategies. To this end, CAN will continue to support sector or issue-focused networks, Working Groups, and learning groups that bring in regional partners and supporters to take part in shared learning and strategizing, with the possibility of deeper shared work.
CAN’s mission to advance the vibrant, equitable, and sustainable economic transition of Central Appalachia,
1. Connects regional organizations and community-based practitioners;
2. Empowers the next generation of leaders through peer-to-peer learning;
3. Synergizes efforts to maximize our collective work and develop key sectors and promote community
resilience, wealth, and wellness.
CONNECT TO MAKE A CHANGE
The network welcomes collaborators from across sectors to partner with nonprofits, community groups, funders, educational institutions, local government, and private businesses. CAN actively pursue economic transition in Central Appalachian communities through various economic sectors and market-based strategies.
Where is CAN?
Our strength is in our participants.
On the map below, visit each icon to learn about that organization, including how they participate in CAN, its location, and its website. Search for individual organizations or see a list of organizations in each category by using the toolbar to the right.
PLEASE NOTE: This map is best viewed on desktop/laptop. If viewing on mobile/tablet just zoom in to view the markers more easily.
As an action-focused network (sometimes referred to as a Collective Impact network), CAN makes use of a network coordinator to support key functions of the network, including internal communications, external communications, learning conversations, strategy development, project management, and more. This role is played by a coordination team of:
- Dialogue + Design Associates – a multi-disciplinary, public-interest design firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia, focusing on helping citizens, localities, and organizations build a stronger future through collaboration, architecture, environmental design, and community planning.
- BC/DC Ideas – a strategic communications agency dedicated to amplifying nonprofit missions.
- Rural Support Partners – a social enterprise that plays a variety of roles to support a just and sustainable economic transition in the Appalachian region.
The fact that active and experienced practitioners in the field inform and govern the program promotes a boots-on-the-ground perspective with a true understanding of the needs, challenges, and opportunities in Central Appalachia. When you have the Central Appalachian Network backing you, it helps a lot!
Our relationship with CAN has been integral to staff professional development. It is extremely valuable given our remote, rural location to connect with others in the sector and continue evolving our best practices and tactics together.
We felt less alone and more inspired to create connections and develop effective and replicable work.
We found models for specific programs that we are interested in and/or have recommended to others.
WV Food & Farm Coalition
We will continue to utilize CAN's network of member organizations and partners by using them as mentors, resources, and sounding boards for our work.
We use CAN anchor organizations as mentors and bounce organizational and strategic ideas off of them.
I appreciate and value the different perspectives the CAN members and partners bring to an issue. It helps elevate the conversation to a regional perspective.
Small groups continue to emerge - first they connect to their neighbors, then their state, and then to the bigger region. It takes time, but it is happening.
Brandon Dennison, Coalfield Development Corporation
CAN made the first ever grant to our sustainable agriculture enterprise: Refresh Appalachia. CAN’s support of Refresh Appalachia highlights CAN at its best: deep, lasting networks that pioneer a new economic reality. CAN does a lot with a little.
CAN Convening Attendee
This experience was amazing and gave my job, passion, and mission more purpose and guidance.
CAN Convening Attendee
It was a great space to meet people from across the region and finally interact with people I was either emailing or hearing about through my work.