DOL announces innovation grants.

May 22, 2014

Last week, the Department of Labor announced $53 million in funding available through the Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF). The WIF funds competitive grants to states, local workforce boards, and other entities to support innovative employment and training approaches. Applications are due by June 18, 2014, and grants will be awarded in September 2014. 

The DOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) plans to fund strategies that will improve performance and service delivery in the public workforce system. Possible strategies include improving coordination among programs and partners; improving service delivery at American Job Centers (AJCs); piloting or scaling programs and strategies that improve linkages between employment and training services and business needs, and implementing new procurement strategies. The WIF encourages applicants to partner with entities both within and outside of the public workforce system, and provides a number of examples of potential partners in the grant solicitation. 

The available $53 million will fund 8-15 5-year grants. ETA will fund three types of grants: Project Type A (new and untested ideas supported by strong logic but whose efficacy has not been studied); Project Type B (promising ideas that have been implemented or evaluated previously, and have indicated some potential for positive impacts); and Project Type C (adapting or scaling proven ideas that are supported by strong evidence of positive change). Funding levels will vary based on thetype of project grantees have proposed. 

DOL also plans to offer a separate grant opportunity under the WIF in fall 2014. Funding available will support planning grants for states that wish to undertake large-scale systemic reform and systems alignment projects that require further planning and preparation. DOL will award implementation grants to the planning grantees whose processes have yielded the most innovative and highest-impact proposals.