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IEL’s Appalachian Higher Education Network Releases New Report

IEL’s Appalachian Higher Education Network Releases New Report

IEL’s Appalachian Higher Education Network Releases New Report
Collaboration Increases Postsecondary Attainment and
Workforce Preparation in 10 Appalachian States

Media Contact: Helen Janc Malone,

Washington, DC |January 30, 2018: The Appalachian Higher Education Network (AHEN), an investment of the Appalachian Regional Commission that has been coordinated for over a decade by IEL, published a report, Opening Doors, Changing Futures. It tells the story of how collaboration among education and workforce development institutions in 10 of the 13 states in the Appalachian region is leading to increases in postsecondary attainment and, by definition, workforce preparation.  The report shares program data, personal testimonials and stories to document the value and results of AHEN’s work during school years 2011-2016.

The AHEN leadership mentor  and co-author of Opening Doors, Changing Futures Betty Hale says, “It is hoped the report will motivate readers to step-up their efforts to increase postsecondary education opportunity and attainment in Appalachia and, in the process, help to develop a stronger workforce and contribute to the development of a more prosperous region.”   

Opening Doors, Changing Futures identifies the range and combination of services provided to area high schools that promoted increased postsecondary education access and success.  It also calls attention to the urgency of providing more opportunities to rural students through partnership and collaboration with families, institutions, and communities, and shares strategic recommendations that will help policymakers and other stakeholders achieve this goal.

“The report is designed to continue the dialogue at local, state, and regional levels about how to create partnerships across Pre-K-20 systems and diverse constituencies to support young people, with a particular focus on building on the region’s assets and on working collaboratively,” explains Dr. Helen Janc Malone. 

The President of the Institute for Educational Leadership, Johan Uvin, commended the report, saying “Opening Doors, Changing Futures captures the power of the network and clearly illustrates the impact on students, schools, postsecondary paths, and communities and institutions.”

Uvin continues, “The strategic actions and recommendations for families and institutions are sound and align well with the cross-sector approaches and family and community engagement strategies IEL is advancing in all of its work at the intersection of education and workforce and community development in pursuit of a more equitable society.”

The work of AHEN documents how “opening doors” for young Appalachians supports them to access and succeed in postsecondary pathways, contributing to the overall prosperity of their communities and of the region.

A special report release event is taking place on February 23, 2018 at the Appalachian Regional Commission. This is part of a research series presented by the Institute for Educational Leadership in partnership with the American Education Research Association and will feature a panel of network members to describe their work and discuss the ongoing need to continue their efforts.


About AHEN: The Appalachian Higher Education Network (AHEN), funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission, is an initiative housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership. Network members work locally in the 10 regional sites to fulfill the mission of increasing postsecondary education attainment in Appalachia. The report, Opening Doors, Changing Futures was co-written by Betty Hale, Senior Fellow and Former President of IEL, and Helen Janc Malone, Director of Institutional Advancement at IEL, with data and stories shared by the program and resource centers across the region.

About IEL: For over 50 years, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) has championed the need for leaders at all levels to shake off their institutional constraints and work across boundaries to address the needs of young people and their families. Bound by no constituency, IEL serves as a catalyst that helps policymakers, administrators, and practitioners at all levels to bridge bureaucratic silos and undo gridlock to improve outcomes for all young people and their families.  The work focuses on three pillars required for young people and their communities to succeed: 1) Involving the broader community with public education to support the learning and development of young people; 2) building more effective pathways into the workforce for all young people and supporting the transition to adulthood; and 3) preparing generations of leaders with the know-how to drive collaborative efforts at all levels.