Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation Donates to Blackjewel Miner Relief


The Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation, which drew national headlines by donating more than $1 million directly to miners laid off by Blackjewel last month, presented the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board (SWVA WDB) with a $250,000 donation in a ceremony August 5 at the Virginia Career Works Center in Norton.

The donation will be used to provide additional resources for miners that have been affected by the recent closure of Blackjewel sites in Lee and Wise Counties. Andy Miranda, chair of the SWVA WDB, and Rick Colley, vice-chair of the SWVA WDB, were present to accept the donation on behalf of the Board from Gilliam Foundation representative, Ross Kegan. SWVA WDB will distribute the resources at the direction of the Gilliam Foundation.

This sizeable donation to help the Blackjewel miners was motivated by Richard Gilliam’s “appreciation for the hard work that coal miners perform,” said Kegan in presenting the check to Miranda. “Richard hasn’t forgotten the work that they do. His past giving has demonstrated compassion toward those in need. His history in coal mining, I think, elevates the coal miner to the top of that list. This bankruptcy disturbed him and moved him to want to do something significant to help out.”

Kegan thanked the SWVA WDB and its staff for exhibiting leadership in recently convening a series of rapid response events and job fairs held across the region to provide vital resources for the Blackjewel miners. SWVA WDB “has graciously agreed to do the work of contacting these miners and getting the resources into their hands to smooth out this bad set of circumstances that has befallen them,” Kegan noted.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous donation from the Gilliam Foundation,” SWVA WDB Chair Andy Miranda said. “This funding will go a long way in assisting miners who have suffered due to lost wages. We are honored that the Foundation chose to partner with us to distribute the assistance.”
SWVA WDB has partnered with other state workforce agencies in the Virginia Career Works system in the past weeks to organize job fairs and rapid response resource events across the region to connect dislocated Blackjewel miners with job and training opportunities and resources such as unemployment insurance benefits, SNAP benefits, and Medicaid.

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