New career building resources come to students in Athens and other Appalachian Ohio counties through the GRIT Project

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GLOUSTER, Ohio (WOUB/Report for America) — Trimble High School student Faith Handley knew she wanted to study medicine after graduation. To that end, she hoped to spend four days of her summer at a pre-med program at Bowling Green State University.

But there was a problem: The cost was more than she could afford.

That’s when the GRIT Project stepped in.

Founded in 2018, GRIT — which stands for Growing Rural Independence Together — seeks to help youth and adults in Appalachian Ohio identify and pursue careers. The program was initially limited to Adams, Brown, Highland, Pike and Scioto counties, but recent funding from the Ohio General Assembly has allowed it to expand significantly. Athens was one of many counties GRIT added this year.

Rather than create its own programming, the GRIT Project seeks to identify existing resources within communities and fill whatever gaps may prevent individuals from accessing them.

The GRIT Project steps in when “there’s maybe just not quite enough to figure out how to get that program done, whether that’s funds or transportation or other resources,” said GRIT Project member Kristy Amy.

The sign outside of Trimble Local High School. A large bell sits next to it.
Trimble is one of several high schools that stand to benefit from GRIT’s expansion. [Theo Peck-Suzuki | WOUB Public Media/Report for America]
According to GRIT’s website, the program also offers one-on-one career coaching to help people plan their career paths.

Amy said community members of all backgrounds are welcome to connect with GRIT and find ways they can help.

“We have every type of person at the table, from leaders of 4-H to county commissioners,” Amy said.

Thanks to GRIT, Handley was able to secure the funding she needed to attend the program at Bowling Green.

Handley said it gave her a good opportunity to learn what she does, and does not, want to focus on as a future medical student.

“The first day was optometry,” Handley recalled. “I had to dissect a cow eye. That was a little much.”