NASHVILLE — March 31, 2014 — On March 28, more than 800 community members from eastern Kentucky gathered at Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) to explore workforce development opportunities in conjunction with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION, the network’s initiative which encourages CMT viewers to pursue post-secondary education. There, AACC and CMT announced a long-term partnership to raise awareness about their available resources and abilities to connect their local community members to training and education. The event convened 10 community colleges and regional leaders including the AACC affiliates, the Community Colleges of Appalachia and the Rural Community College Alliance, with workforce and economic development leaders from Appalachia. AACC and CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION are launching this partnership first with Appalachian schools through the help of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership focusing on economic development, and will continue to roll out this opportunity to community colleges nationwide over the course of three years.

   The Hazard, Ky., event marked the first of several grassroots activities throughout the United States, aiming at bringing communities together to highlight resources available to the people of each of these regions based on area specific workforce development needs and strategic economic solutions. In Hazard, CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION and AACC joined forces with HCTC to showcase how the regional economy can be strengthened through retraining more than 8,000 unemployed coal miners into fields that have an increasing need and a shortage of workers, such as electrical linemen, healthcare workers, heavy equipment repairmen and heating, ventilation and air conditioning workers. The March 28 event also featured an exhibit hall where local agencies presented available services to support those interested in furthering their education or exploring a new career path.
    “We are great believers in the capacity of our rural community colleges to be responsive and innovative in addressing critical workforce and economic needs in their communities,” said Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges. “We applaud CMT and our other partners for having the vision to connect with a community like Hazard as a model for the country.”
   “When we launched CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION two years ago, our first step was to create an online resource to help our viewers navigate the busy and sometimes overwhelming educational landscape,” said Lucia Folk, vice president of public affairs, CMT. “We are excited to take the next step by showcasing what an incredible resource the AACC network of community colleges is. Small towns are the fabric of our country and CMT is privileged to help give voice to the challenges they face and highlight opportunities to overcome them.”

   Following the exhibit hall portion of the day, community members were treated to a concert by Big Machine Music Singer/Songwriter, Courtney Cole. Also during this time, HCTC shared success stories of community members who transitioned from coal mining into other careers with the goal of inspiring those in attendance facing similar challenges to consider furthering their education. As a result, many of the coalminers and their families will pursue education at the college. AACC and CMT plan to host several similar events at other community colleges before the end of the year.

Photo attached from L-R: Dr. Ronnie L. Booth, President, Community Colleges of Appalachia/President, Tri-County Technical College; Lucia Folk, Vice President, Public Affairs, CMT; Delcie Combs, Assistant to the President/Special Projects, Hazard Community and Technical College; Courtney Cole, Big Machine Music singer/songwriter; Dr. Stephen Greiner, President/CEO, Hazard Community and Technical College; Dr. Kathy Smoot, Provost/Vice President of Academic Services, Hazard Community and Technical College; Dr. Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Education Program Manager, Appalachian Regional Commission; Jennifer Worth, Director, American Association of Community Colleges Center for Workforce and Economic Development; Dr. Brian D. Swords, Easley Campus Director, Tri-County Technical College

CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION is a comprehensive educational campaign that provides an online resource,, to aid CMT viewers in overcoming the most commonly perceived obstacles to furthering education. The site aggregates the multitude of existing quality information in one easy-to-navigate central location, and creates an individualized education action plan for each user.

CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION is founded on the same education research and insights that led to the creation of Get Schooled, a non-profit organization dedicated to using media, technology and popular culture to improve attendance. Get Schooled was formed through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Advising partners for the CMT EMPOWERING EDUCATION campaign include Achieving the Dream, the Association of Career and Technical Education, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Workforce and Economic Development at the American Association of Community Colleges, National Skills Coalition and Skills for America's Future (the Aspen Institute).

About the American Association of Community Colleges
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges. The association represents nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions and more than 13 million students. AACC’s Center for Workforce and Economic Development (AACC CWED) is the division within AACC that specifically focuses on student engagement, persistence and completion of students in industry-recognized credentialed programs. AACC CWED connects national and local employers to the colleges, ensures alignment with industry affiliates and networks that can support sector-specific initiatives and supports the success of every student to employment, further education and training and/or the necessary credential to improve their current job status. AACC CWED has an extensive history of working with industry partners, foundations, workforce and economic development partners and colleges across the country with the goal of identifying best practices and making them common practices across the system of member colleges.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts.
ARC funds projects that address the four goals identified in the Commission's strategic plan:
1.   Increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the nation.
2.   Strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy.
3.   Develop and improve Appalachia's infrastructure to make the Region economically competitive.
4.   Build the Appalachian Development Highway System to reduce Appalachia's isolation.
Each year ARC provides funding for several hundred projects in the Appalachian Region, in areas such as business development, education and job training, telecommunications, infrastructure, community development, housing and transportation. These projects create thousands of new jobs, improve local water and sewer systems, increase school readiness, expand access to health care, assist local communities with strategic planning and provide technical and managerial assistance to emerging businesses.

   CMT, a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), is the leading television and digital authority on country music and entertainment, reaching more than 92 million homes in the U.S. CMT and its website,, offer an unparalleled mix of music, news, live concerts and series and is the top resource for country music on demand. The network’s digital platforms include the 24-hour music channel, CMT Pure Country, CMT Mobile and CMT VOD.

# # #

Caitlin Greenwell      615-335-8412


CMT Empowering Education


Viacom Entertainment Group © 2021 MTV Networks. All Rights Reserved.