MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia University is teaming up with Marshall University to create a program that looks to keep graduates of both schools close to home.

According to a release from WVU Today, First Ascent is a new program that looks to “cultivate and retain local talent within West Virginia.” The program plans to do this by providing remote and hybrid work opportunities in certain locations across West Virginia.

“When we started with Ascend, the goal was to bring people to West Virginia — either for the first time or as returners,” Marshall University President Brad D. Smith said. “With First Ascent, we’re working to keep our graduates in state by positioning West Virginia as a hub for remote workers who can find success in the increasingly digital world while supporting overall state economic growth.”

On top of work opportunities, the program also plans to offer amenities such as free co-working space and outdoor recreation equipment, professional mentorship, remote worker certification and professional development.

The program announced on Wednesday that it has begun accepting applications from recent West Virginia University and Marshall University graduates. Current students and alumni from both schools are eligible so long as they fall anywhere between the last year of their degree program and one year after they graduate.

The release said that the program’s goal is to address the population loss and brain drain plaguing the state that it said “stems from new graduates pursuing employment opportunities elsewhere.”

The program plans to provide opportunities in six locations across the Mountain State, which include:

  • Morgantown
  • Huntington
  • Eastern Panhandle
  • New River Gorge
  • Greater Elkins
  • Greenbrier Valley

The release said that applicants must be willing to live in one of the listed communities and must accept a remote or hybrid full-time position for a company regardless of whether or not it is in West Virginia. Applicants can also be eligible if they’ve launched a business that operates and/or delivers services remotely prior to applying.