Our organization exists because in 2009 volunteers started to address concerns about housing in Wayne, WV. It was quickly realized that traditional charity was not nearly enough to address the deep, generational challenges we face. After intense community engagement, we pioneered a relationship-based, holistic approach to on-the-job training. Unemployed and underemployed people were hired to construct green affordable housing. Trainees worked the 33-6-3 model each week: 33 hours of paid labor, 6 hours of higher education class time, and 3 hours of life-skills mentorship.
Today, we have grown into a family of social enterprises working throughout the region as a leader in the building of a new economy during the wake of the coal industry’s rapid decline. We have created more than 40 on-the-job training positions, more than 200 professional certification opportunities, redeveloped more than 150,000 square feet of dilapidated property, and successfully launched five new businesses in real estate development, construction, wood working, agriculture and artisan trades – industries based on local assets and having real viability in the Appalachian region. Coalfield Development operates as a family of six social enterprises. A social enterprise is a business that combines the compassion of the nonprofit sector with the efficiency of the for-profit sector.
We are a “not-for-profit” company. Notice, we are not a “non-profit” company. While we are recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 charity, we’re designed as a “social enterprise,” meaning we blend the efficiency and production of the for-profit sector with the compassion and purpose of the charitable sector. Our current model was developed by Brandon Dennison while studying at the Indiana University Kelly School of Business in the Social Entrepreneurship program and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs’ Nonprofit Management program. The result is a more effective, more self-sustaining, and more innovative organization. In 2013, Coalfield earned 42% of its revenue, and is on track to top this figure in 2014. While we will always push to be a successful business as measured by dollars-and-cents (certainly, we celebrate the value and goodness of for-profit business), we wake up in the morning and work harder than what is considered “normal” because of our commitment to the community-based mission of this organization. One day at a time, one tenant at a time, and one crew member at a time, our vision comes into focus a bit more clearly: