Recent Wing 2 Wing Foundation Activities

Waterfall with rocks at the base of it

The Wing 2 Wing Foundation focuses on supporting accessible education to instill capabilities and skills needed to participate and compete in the digital world. Wing 2 Wing primarily operates in the Appalachian Region, where technological changes have created upheavals in the social and work lives of residents and youth. 

Here are some of the most exciting recent efforts Wing 2 Wing is involved in:

1. Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative 

Back in October 2020, Alys and Brad D. Smith and the Wing 2 Wing Foundation donated $25 million to West Virginia University. The funds were used to create the Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC). OEDC aims to utilize West Virginia’s unique outdoor assets to create economic growth. It also aims to expand recreational and professional infrastructure in the state. Additionally, OEDC fosters outdoor learning and educational opportunities. 

OEDC is part of Brad D. Smith’s recognition that West Virginia has unique assets that come together to create the perfect space for innovation. Smith said, “What makes West Virginia so familiar, yet so unique? I believe the answer lies in three things – our culture, our people and our natural environment.” [source]

This realization led to the effort to reinvigorate economies across the state, identifying growth areas and creating actionable plans to do so. That’s where OEDC came from and the hope is to take advantage of West Virginia’s rich offerings to attract talent, investment and more.

The first major initiative is the Ascend West Virginia remote worker program and it’s currently a big focus. More on that below.

Other initiatives under the OEDC include Science Adventure School, the Youth Cycling Coalition and outdoor economy efforts. It also focuses on talent attraction, community development and related efforts all aligned with economic development.

2. Ascend West Virginia Remote Worker Program 

In April 2021, Smith’s OEDC project, Ascend WV was launched to help grow West Virginia’s remote work talent pool by developing the region’s offerings and incentivizing workers to move to West Virginia. With the growth of remote jobs and remote talent, it’s now possible for people to live where they choose and maintain a career with an organization located elsewhere. The program provides $12,000 to accepted applicants and the goal is to bring 1,000 new residents to West Virginia over the next few years. Morgantown, Lewisburg and Shepherdstown are the first three participating cities, with more planned in the future. 

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice was an early supporter and part of why the program is on the track to success. So far, the program has been incredibly popular with thousands of applications from all over the world. More information is to come as the program expands.