College of Public Health

TNIPH Awarded Appalachian Regional Commission Grant


Ginny Kidwell

The Tennessee Institute of Public Health at the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health has been awarded a second grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to further expand the “Correctional Career Pathways” program in Appalachian Tennessee. The first of its kind in the state, and possibly nationally, the Correctional Career Pathways program began in the Greene County, Tennessee Workhouse in 2015. The program gives non-violent offenders in local jails the opportunity to break the cycle of arrest and incarceration and transition into the workforce.

TNIPH was successful during 2018-2019 in developing a framework to provide a well-defined roadmap and technical assistance to replicate the program in Grundy and Scott counties, two “distressed” Appalachian Tennessee counties.

The new project, led by TNIPH Executive Director Ginny Kidwell, will systematically offer funding, leadership, training, infrastructure and recovery services to replicate the CCP program in three additional ARC-designated “distressed” and “at-risk” communities. Funds will be awarded through a region-wide competitive process to eligible communities. Adaptations to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic will be required in the next round, and certain components of the program will require a virtual platform. A new comprehensive peer recovery component will also be incorporated into the model in partnership with Ballad Health to address substance use disorder and mental health issues among participating inmates. In addition to the ARC, partners supporting this program are Ballad Health, the ETSU Center for Rural Health Research, the East Tennessee Foundation, and the Niswonger Foundation.

“This project raises the profile of prisoner reentry as important public health and economic issues, and not only as criminal justice and corrections matters,” said Ginny Kidwell. “Reintegrating inmates as contributing members of society will positively impact the social and economic well-being of participating communities by redirecting money and social capital and by strengthening families,” Kidwell added.

“Prescription drug abuse is a pervasive multi-dimensional issue impacting individuals, families and communities,” said Kidwell. “CCP is based on a compassionate formula to empower, not simply punish, inmates through job opportunities and a broad range of interventions to provide increasingly important recovery support services to assist inmates with mental illness, substance abuse or co-occurring disorders.” 

The project team will be led by Kidwell with Kristine Bowers, TNIPH evaluator; Dara Young, academic advising coordinator for health sciences in the College of Public Health; Sam Pettyjohn, research assistant professor, Center for Rural Health Research; Kimberly Gass, Greene County Technology Center career counselor; Casey Carringer, director of clinical engagement, Department of Population Health, Ballad Health; and Jason Pritchard, recovery program manager, Department of Population Health, Ballad Health, serving as project team members.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local governments. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president.

The Tennessee Institute of Public Health in the ETSU College of Public Health is a lead statewide convener of organizations, agencies and groups designed to build and foster the collaborations necessary to improve population health. For further information about TNIPH or this project, please contact Ginny Kidwell at 423-439-4651 or