The Five Principles of Leadership: Principle #5 is Pay-It-Forward
Brad D. Smith, Co-Founder of the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, was featured on the daily304’s bi-weekly “Innovators and Entrepreneurs” segment to discuss his recent efforts to uplift West Virginia through Ascend West Virginia and the Wing 2 Wing Foundation. Born and raised in the Mountain State, Brad and his wife Alys Smith have made it their mission to create opportunities and support development in Appalachia.
With breathtaking views, endless adventures, kind communities and a need for talent, West Virginia is an opportune setting for remote workers to thrive. Ascend WV provides incentives and resources for the work-from-home community to do just that. During his daily304 segment, Brad elaborated on Ascend WV’s goals and the program’s progress since its inception:
“We are bringing in over 1,000 remote workers over the next five years, plus their family…in groups of 25 at a time. We’re now three groups in and have 75 Ascenders, and a total of 143 people who have moved to the state. For the first 75 positions we’ve had over one million people visit the website, we’ve had tens of thousands of applications, and they’ve come from 104 countries and all 50 states.”
Ascend WV is a program developed through the Wing 2 Wing Foundation. The Smiths started the foundation in 2019 to level the playing field of opportunity in Appalachia by focusing on three pillars: education, entrepreneurship and the environment. In addition to Ascend WV, the foundation also funds and supports additional programs that uphold these pillars, such as the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative. The foundation has also established scholarships for first-generation students attending Marshall University and Ohio State, Brad and Alys’ respective alma maters.
Brad also used the news segment as an opportunity to remark on West Virginia’s resilience and potential: “We have everything it takes to lead this nation and shape the 21st century because we are built out of grit and we are built out of grace.”
The people and environmental resources available in West Virginia are the foundation for success in the Mountain State, with programs such as Ascend WV driving it forward.
Watch the episode below.