Model & Strategy

Coalfield Development is a West Virginia 501(c)3 focused on ending the intergenerational cycle of poverty in Appalachia by rebuilding the region’s economy from the ground up.  Coalfield’s mission is to promote economic development and create jobs for chronically unemployed residents, most of whom are in the coal industry. Coal companies owned, and then abandoned, not just the coal mines, but much of the state’s infrastructure.  Coalfield oversees a family of social enterprises that pioneer new and viable economic markets in the region, while simultaneously providing a holistic model of direct employment, formal education, and personal development training.

Coalfield Development logo
At a Glance
Founded: 2012
Founder & CEO: Brandon Dennison
Economic Empowerment
Location of work: Domestic
Coalfield Development
Wayne, WV
Appalachian Courage, Creativity, Community
Two men in hard hats are featured; one is working to cut wood to install siding on the side of a house, while the other is using a laptop to look up parameters for the siding
Meet Brandon Dennison

Brandon Dennison, the Founder and CEO of Coalfield Development, was born and raised in southern West Virginia. In college, Brandon became a Youth Director for a progressive faith group through and experiential learning trips across the US and the world.  On his final service trip in West Virginia, Brandon was struck by an interaction with two men who approached the volunteers who were working on home repairs asking the volunteers for work.  Through these experiences, Brandon recognized how much need there is in his own backyard, and after graduate school, he returned to West Virginia to launch Coalfield Development.

Brandon attended college at Shepherd University in West Virginia and received a Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management with a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from Indiana University. He has received many awards and honors including the 2015 JM Kaplan Social Innovation Prize, the 2014 Diehl Family Social Enterprise Competition, and was named a 40 under 40 leaders nationwide who are making their mark on the nonprofit world by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.




Coalfield has attracted $20M in new investment to southern West Virginia with over 250 new jobs created and more than 50 new businesses started in southern West Virginia.

The program has facilitated over 1,000 professional certifications for formerly unemployed people and has spread messaging about a new sustainable economy to over 15M people globally.