DOL Awards Innovation Grants

September 26, 2014

This week, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced over $50 million in Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grants to 11 state and local entities in nine states. These grants will be used to support innovative employment and training activities.

Grant awards range from $2.9 million to nearly $12 million to state workforce agencies and local workforce investment boards, and were awarded with the Administration’s job-driven training principles in mind. Further details on the winning proposals have not yet been released.

According to the solicitation released by the DOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) in the solicitation released in May, the grants will be used to fund strategies that will improve performance and service delivery within the public workforce system. Possible strategies identified by 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 solicitation also strongly encouraged eligible entities to develop and implement these strategies in partnership with other relevant entities in the local or regional areas, and indicated that grants awarded will fall into three categories: 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).

ETA plans to issue another WIF grant solicitation this fall, which will support planning grants for states seeking to undertake large-scale systems reform and alignment projects that require further planning and preparation.

Authorization for the WIF was eliminated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, so it is possible that the solicitation to be released this fall will be the final one for the program.