WASHINGTON — Successful workforce development programs depend on continuous improvement and innovation. To ensure these programs are efficient and effective, the U.S. Department of Labor created the Workforce Innovation Fund. The fund provides the support needed to enhance federally funded employment and training programs and study these programs to identify and share best practices in workforce development.
To continue this work, the department is announcing the availability of $34 million for the third round of grants for the Workforce Innovation Fund today. Funding awards will support approximately 6-8 grants, ranging from $3 million to $6 million.
"Workforce Innovation Fund grants are all about finding new and creative ways to expand opportunity and make the workforce system more customer-focused," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "States and local areas continue to be laboratories for innovation, and these grants aim to help them develop sustainable, effective strategies that we can scale across the country."
This is the first round of WIF funding since the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, which emphasizes the coordination and alignment of resources across the federal government and with state and local partners. Funds in the round will help the WIF build on the act's principles of a fully integrated, job-driven workforce system. Grants funded in this round will pursue one or more of the following strategies:
- Enhance strategic collaboration and coordination of workforce development programs to align services with employer needs and local economic development activities and be more effective;
- Strengthen the quality of services to individuals and employers at American Job Centers; and
- Promote accountability, data-driven decision-making and customer choice.
All WIF grantees are required to procure an independent evaluator to evaluate the project rigorously. These evaluations are likely to yield significant new evidence and best practices to stimulate innovation throughout the broader workforce system.
Grant applications are due by July 23, 2015. Information on applying for this grant is now available.
Interested applicants are encouraged to visit http://www.doleta.gov/workforce_innovation to learn more about the Workforce Innovation Fund, and to find tools and resources to support application development. A tutorial for on applying for grants is also available online.