The Appalachian Impact Fund is a pioneering social impact investment fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky supporting economic transition and community investment in Eastern Kentucky. We envision a day when Eastern Kentucky is a place of unique thriving local economies that enhance the existing natural and cultural assets of the region and offer economic opportunity for all people while keeping ownership, assets, and wealth rooted in local communities.
History: A Reinvestment Strategy for Appalachian Kentucky
Appalachian Kentucky is the poorest sub-region in Appalachia with 37 of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s 83 most distressed counties located within its borders. Issues of poverty in Appalachian Kentucky stretch back to the turn of the last century and the dawn of extractive industries and a history of dispossession coupled with a critical lack of philanthropic and private investment that continues today. Recognizing the immense needs and challenges alongside the region’s promises and opportunities, Kentuckians Brook and Pam Smith established the Appalachian Impact Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky with strategies informed by the Foundation, local leaders, and a mission to support equitable economic transition in the region.
Brook has a longtime relationship with Eastern Kentucky through several decades of providing surety bonds on behalf of the construction and mining industries across the region. Recognizing that their personal wealth is deeply tied to mountain people, land and communities, the Smith family felt a personal and social responsibility to reinvest in the region. AIF was established with a multi-million dollar commitment to the region from the Smith family to establish and grow a place-based fund that is deploying catalytic capital to community-led solutions in a way that is accountable to- and directed by- local people and place.
We believe the Appalachian Impact Fund offers a new approach for how others can equitably invest in Appalachia.