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Through the power of Community, Purpose, and the Outdoors, First Ascent is transforming the professional landscape of West Virginia by cultivating a hub for hybrid and remote workers to thrive.

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Universities United

In a joint effort to retain university students in the Mountain State upon graduation, West Virginia University and Marshall University have combined their resources and expertise to equip recent graduates with the tools they need to thrive in their early career. Through the power of Community, Purpose, and the Outdoors, First Ascent is poised to position the state as a hub for remote work while driving economic growth and building resilient communities for young professionals to live, work, play, and stay. 

Economic Impact

First Ascent impacts the future of the state’s workforce through a demonstrated commitment to investing in the future of West Virginians. 

Seed funding for the program originated from WVU Provost Reed’s Innovation Summit; subsequent awards were provided by the Coalfield Development’s EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant, and a $25m gift from the Wing-to-Wing Foundation, and support from the state. 

This funding provided the foundation for the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC) to leverage West Virginia’s outdoor assets, take a lead role in asset-based economic development by investing in people and communities, and build the infrastructure which will ultimately serve as a model for workforce development.  

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