Wing 2 Wing Foundation’s 2023 Year in Review

Since its 2019 inception, the Wing 2 Wing Foundation has worked to level the playing field of opportunity in Appalachia. Acting on its three guiding pillars (education, entrepreneurship and environment), Wing 2 Wing has worked to support West Virginia’s dreamers and doers by prioritizing access to education, advancing entrepreneurial interests, and conserving and championing the region’s natural assets. In 2023, Wing 2 Wing celebrated four years since its founding as well as the introduction of new ventures and programs created to further aid Appalachians. 

Read on to learn about Wing 2 Wing’s work toward unleashing West Virginia’s human potential in 2023. 

Supporting the First Annual Almost Heaven Classic

Wing 2 Wing was proud to be a high-level sponsor of the Almost Heaven Classic in June. Over 250 West Virginians attended the inaugural event hosted by Mountaineer Media. The Almost Heaven Classic was held over the course of two days and paired a professional summit with a golf tournament the following day. West Virginia business leaders, including Wing 2 Wing co-founder Brad D. Smith, participated in a panel discussion during the summit, discussing the state’s historic successes as a pioneer across industries and how these successes have influenced the state’s current economic development.

Alys Smith Leads the Inaugural Women Warriors Summit

The Women Warriors Summit (WWS) was another exciting inaugural event supported by Wing 2 Wing in 2023. Created by the foundation’s co-founder Alys Smith, the summit was held at Mountain Health Arena in October and attracted over 700 attendees. With an aim to empower women’s voices, the event consisted of various workshops and training sessions to help women connect with one another and develop skills related to successfully holding difficult conversations at work and in their personal lives. 

The WWS agenda also included opening and closing addresses by Alys, panel discussions hosted by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien and featured inspiring speeches by actress and producer Nicole Kidman and co-author of “Crucial Conversations” Emily Gregory.

Taking Ascend West Virginia to New Heights with First Ascent

One of Wing 2 Wing’s most well-known ventures is the Ascend West Virginia remote worker program. With a goal of bringing new talent to West Virginia, Ascend offers remote workers incentives to establish themselves and their families in one of the program’s five picturesque WV communities. Since the program came to fruition in 2021, over 350 people have made the move to the Mountain State. Brad spoke on both Wing 2 Wing and Ascend WV’s successes during a segment with the Daily304 last January.

Not only did Ascend WV celebrate its second anniversary in 2023, but it also launched a spinoff program named First Ascent that encourages recent graduates of Marshall University and West Virginia University to stay in the state after completing their studies. First Ascent participants receive professional support — assisting both remote and hybrid workers in establishing their careers — against the backdrop of West Virginia’s natural beauty.

Rhetoric Named as Wing 2 Wing’s Newest Venture

Under Wing 2 Wing’s entrepreneurship pillar, the foundation’s portfolio of ventures focuses on providing professional advising and business resources to West Virginia startups — fostering the state’s next generation of innovators. In early 2023, the legal technology startup Rhetoric was added to the foundation’s ventures portfolio. Rhetoric was founded by West Virginia native Luke Yingling and uses artificial intelligence to assist litigators with improving their odds of success in court.

Ringing in a New Year Full of New Activities

As the foundation shifts its vision to 2024 initiatives, the Wing 2 Wing Foundation will maintain its focus on uplifting the people of West Virginia and Appalachia and celebrating the state’s potential.

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