The Central Appalachian Network (CAN) is a network of nonprofit organizations across eastern Kentucky, southeastern Ohio, eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and West Virginia working to advance sustainable economic development in a variety of sectors, including energy, forestry, food systems, waste and recycling, and green business development.

 General About the Organization/Mission

CAN is a self-described “network of networks” comprised of networks of partners representing producers, consumers, landowners, entrepreneurs, local government officials, non-profit organizations, social enterprise businesses, schools and universities, students, and youth throughout the region. It is led by a Steering Committee of the following six member organizations:

  • Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet)
  • Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
  • Community Farm Alliance (CFA)
  • Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED)
  • Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc. (NCIF)
  • Rural Action

CAN and their member organizations focus on building the capacity of the central Appalachian economy and creating opportunities for growth that are environmentally sustainable, socially just, and reactive to community need. Many of CAN’s programs focus on building partnerships, performing research and public education, developing policy and infrastructure, supporting entrepreneurs, providing technical and business assistance, and building value-added assets. CAN promotes triple-bottom line entrepreneurship, a business approach that simultaneously promotes economic, social, and environmental goals. In recent years, CAN has particularly focused its resources on working to support the development of local food economies and strengthen local food value chains.

Basic Info

Type of Organization



Primary Contact

Social Media

Issues of Focus

  • Sustainable Economic Development
  • Education and youth empowerment
  • Healthy food access and sustainable production
  • Economic Revitalization and poverty alleviation

History of Organization

Founded on June 28, 1992

Programs and Projects 

Local Food Value Chains: Many of CAN’s member organizations act as intermediaries in the food value chain, which include any organization or business that affects or transforms food from farm to consumer. CAN provides small grants, technical assistance, training, and planning and assessment support to partner organizations and local farm and food businesses to build capacity and increase the profitability and sustainability of these value chains.

Food System Working Group: CAN and the Appalachiaa Funders Network received a $250,000 grant USDA Rural Community Development Initiative  grant, matched by existing investment in the region’s food systems, to support nine different organizations working to improve and strengthen the Central Appalachia food system.

CAN Small Grants Program: CAN provides small grants to partner organizations, local farms and food businesses designed to increase the capacity of and collaboration between agencies and organizations across local food system with mutual goals.


Collaborative Research: CAN has collaborated with research institutions across the country, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Missouri, and Ohio University to develop publications, webinars, conferences, and reports on best practices in sustainable development and challenges particular to rural-based economic sectors. A list of such collaborations can be found at

Partners and Frequent Collaborators

Future development of this wiki

  • Add hyperlinks
  • Add map