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Rivers of Steel Receives $1.4 Million from Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative

By October 20, 2023Press Room
Grant logo reading 2023 Power Award Recipient paired with stock images of people doing things.

Rivers of Steel Receives $1.4 Million from Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative

Partners for Creative Economy is part of a nearly $54 million award package and will help revitalize coal-impacted communities in Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area


Homestead, PA (October 20, 2023)—Rivers of Steel has been awarded $1,463,222 by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to launch the Partners for Creative Economy initiatives in the eight counties of southwestern Pennsylvania that are part of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area—Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland.

This award is part of a recently announced nearly $54 million package supporting 64 projects in 217 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, which directs federal resources to economic diversification projects in Appalachian communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries. This is the largest single POWER award package to date since the initiative launched in 2015.

Partners for Creative Economy is a long-term vision for the future of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. By strengthening local leadership, providing career opportunities in historic trades, and investing in future economic growth, Rivers of Steel is working to support the success of the region’s cultural and heritage assets. Partners for Creative Economy presents transformational opportunities to communities in the region that have been left out of the recent economic growth and prosperity in the City of Pittsburgh.

By bringing together artists and designers with community groups, municipal leaders, and heritage tourism assets, Rivers of Steel aims to build local creative leadership, provide career opportunities in historic trades, and boost the area’s tourism sector. Five key strategies, including a creative leadership program, joint program partnerships, collaborative marketing efforts, a new workforce training initiative, and an expanded Mini-Grants program, will advance the community-based work that Rivers of Steel is already engaged in.

Additional support for Partners for Creative Economy is provided by The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and in-kind support from participating communities.

“From workforce training and agriculture to downtown development and broadband expansion, the projects receiving grants in this round of POWER funding show that the future of Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities is economically diverse and innovative,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Projects like these are resulting in life-changing transformations, which in turn, not only provides new economic opportunities, but brings a renewed sense of hope and purpose across our Appalachian Region.”

“Rivers of Steel is thrilled to receive support from the Appalachian Regional Commission,” said August Carlino, president and CEO of the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation. “This grant is transformational, not just for our organization, but for our region. Partners for Creative Economy presents comprehensive solutions to complex challenges that have persisted for the communities left behind since the collapse of Big Steel. The foundation for this work is the relationships Rivers of Steel has built with communities in southwestern Pennsylvania during the last few decades. We’re looking forward to supporting a new vision for the region, spurred by this new initiative and underscored by creative collaboration.”

Including today’s award package, ARC has invested over $420 million in 507 projects, impacting 365 coal-impacted counties since POWER was established in 2015. ARC’s investments have helped create or retain over 53,000 jobs and prepare over 142,000 workers and students for new opportunities in entrepreneurship, broadband, tourism, and other growing industries.

About the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

This eight-county region is one of 62 National Heritage Areas designated by the U.S. Congress and one of 12 State Heritage Areas. A National Heritage Area is a place of national significance to America. For Rivers of Steel, Congress recognized the industrial and cultural heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania. Through a public-private partnership with the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Rivers of Steel supports heritage conservation, heritage tourism, and outdoor recreation as a means to foster economic redevelopment and enhance cultural engagement.

About Rivers of Steel

Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical and 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development partnership entity of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing

Rivers of Steel   |   The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Ave, Homestead PA 15120