In West Virginia, the second most rural state in the U.S., women have the lowest workforce participation in the country, compounding the problems during their retirement years. Since 2003, WISER has been experimenting with innovative grassroots efforts to address this issue through its Rural Retirement Project.

Between 2012 and 2015, WISER’s Rural Retirement Project conducted the Appalachian Savings Project with self-employed childcare workers in Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia. The project demonstrates that low- and moderate-income workers interested in saving can accumulate significant savings, especially when there is a low-dollar, easily accessible savings vehicle, combined with a matched incentive to save.

The project focused on childcare workers in the Appalachian regions of Ohio and West Virginia. Childcare workers–many of whom are self-employed–are among the lowest paid wage earners in the United States. Participants’ total savings including the match averaged $1,150, estimated to be 5.5% of their average annual incomes. The project design can be used in other work sectors with high concentrations of self-employed and entrepreneurial workers, as well as promoted in lower-wage service sectors where retirement benefits are not offered, such as home-care and other service work.

Watch a short video about the Appalachian Savings Project.

For more information on the Appalachian Savings Project, download the reports:

Savings Matches, Small Dollar Accounts, and Childcare Workers’ Decisions to Save: 2012-2015 Appalachian Savings Project (December 2015)
Full Report
Report Brief (4 Pages)

Creating Opportunity: The Impact of Matched Savings for Childcare Workers (March 2016)
A Summary Report of WISER’s Appalachian Savings Project


Appalachian Savings Project in the Spotlight!

NPR featured the Appalachian Savings Project on its program, All Things ConsideredListen to the story.

The Appalachian Savings Project was a featured case study in the following reports:

Improving the Saver’s Credit for Low- and Moderate-Income Workers
Published by the National Institute on Retirement Security and the AARP Public Policy Institute
September 2017

Toward a More Secure Retirement for Domestic Workers
Published by The Century Foundation
September 12, 2017



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