This volume of the Gatekeeper series from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) looks at the economic education efforts of Highlander Research and Education Centre (Tennessee, USA) in Appalachia and its role in promoting community development. It gives a background to social problems in Appalachia and describes the Highlander project. The project concentrated on three rural communities (Dungannon, Virginia; Jelico, Tennessee; and Ivanhoe, Virginia) and was oriented towards helping communities gain knowledge necessary for local development. Community groups were offered technical and educational support for grassroots economic leadership development through a participatory process where the community could assess their own situation, and define and implement strategies for themselves. Part of the participatory methodology were oral history, community surveys, community mapping and drawings, decision-maker interviews, videos and readings, brainstorming and feasibility studies, and cultural components. Finally the outcomes of the project are examined.