Overview

For too long, West Virginia has occupied the liminal space between past and future. Struggling with the effects of a declining coal economy and uncertain about the way forward, the Mountain State faces a stagnating economic landscape marked by a deficiency of 21st century jobs or industries. Although we don’t believe that there is one, single solution to the challenges faced by our state, we do believe that building accessible pathways for advancement and growth is an essential starting place. First and foremost, this means addressing West Virginia’s need for a workforce with 21st century skills and non-extractive opportunities for employment.

Generation West Virginia, propelled by their vision of a thriving economy and improved quality of life in the Mountain State, partnered with us to develop a program that would equip motivated individuals with in-demand skills and connect them with local companies looking to hire. The result: an intensive six-month, tuition-free tech training and recruitment program based out of Huntington.

84 Agency co-built the NewForce program with Generation West Virginia. From program development to strategy, branding, publicity, recruitment, and implementation, 84 Agency’s team played an integral role in every part of the process. As skilled problem solvers and storytellers, they have been invaluable in helping us approach and begin to address an incredibly complex issue.”

— Natalie Roper, Executive Director of Generation West Virginia

Process

Step 1

Our team worked with the executive director of GWV to develop the concept for the NewForce program.

We brainstormed, discussed, researched, revised, and reiterated until the program concept was ready to be presented to the public.

Step 2

After further brainstorming, research, and collaboration, we named the program “NewForce” to capture its mission of generating a new workforce in West Virginia. Then we created a brand identity for the program that was connected to—but distinct from—the branding of GWV.

Step 3

With the pieces starting to come together, we shifted our focus to promotion.

We drafted and polished materials targeted at potential funders, allies, and other interested members of the community in order to secure funding, get the word out about the program, and attract employers and program partners. Key partners included Mountwest Community & Technical College and the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia.

Step 4

Next, in coordination with JobCase, a national recruiter social network, we built the website.

Step 5

As the launch date drew nearer, we planned and hosted a press conference with our program partners.

Step 6

Then it was time to recruit. We developed and executed an advertising campaign designed to engage a regional audience and procure applications.

Step 7

Program launch!

Step 8

Rinse and repeat. We continue to provide support to NewForce by managing the program’s ongoing communications needs.

Impact

The effect of the NewForce program transcends any single group of people. By providing transformational opportunities to both workers and employers, the program is also a step towards reshaping West Virginia’s economy.

It all comes down to connection—the most crucial service that the program provides. In connecting underemployed individuals with training, resources, and eager employers, NewForce is delivering opportunities to people and companies in a manner that is sustainable as well as non-extractive.

Graduates of the program leave with in-demand software development skills, a community of mentors and peers to fall back on, a greater capacity to advocate for themselves, and the potential for a meaningful career, while employer partners gain easy access to a pool of determined and qualified candidates. Through these avenues, NewForce is adding value to a system sorely in need of it, and, in doing so, helping build a bridge into West Virginia’s future.