Details on Major Labor Dept. Grant Program for 2-Year Colleges

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The U.S. Department of Labor issued a solicitation for two-year colleges interested in funding from an overall pot of $2 billion to support education and career training programs over the next four years.

Education and career training programs at both community colleges and for-profit schools can submit applications for these grants, which come from Recovery Act funding. DOL says some of the money will go to individual colleges, while other grants will be awarded to consortiums of multiple schools. 

The $500 million grant solicitation for the first year under what is called the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants program, developed by DOL along with the Department of Education, is available here. This detailed notice requires schools to actively engage local partners, such as workforce investment boards or nonprofit career centers, before applying. 

Though the grants will be targeted towards programs that provide new career opportunities for recently laid-off workers or those whose jobs may be threatened by foreign competition, these programs will still impact many young workers who have recently entered or are soon to enter the job market.

Scanning through the 53-page solicitation notice, here are the provisions that stand out:

General Info

* All applications are due by April 21, 2011.

* Grants will be awarded to either the development of innovative programs or the replication of evidence-based programs.

* Grants will range from $2.5 million to $5 million for individual applicants, and $2.5 million to $20 million for consortiums. Exceptions to the ceiling can be made for applicants that propose replication or that propose online and technology-enabled courses.

* The solicitation includes four priorities in achieving the goals of these grants: 1) Accelerate progress for low-skilled and other workers; 2) Improve retention and achievement rates to reduce time to completion; 3) Build programs that meet industry needs, including developing career pathways; and 4) Strengthen online and technology-enabled learning.

* A free webinar will be available for viewing here starting Jan. 24 that explains the process, and a supplementary online tutorial is already available here.

* The DOL contact for further information is Melissa Abdullah, (202) 693-3346, Abdulla.Melissa@dol.gov.

Application Requirements

* Programs must target workers who are eligible for income support payments, the health coverage tax credit and other services, but the notice points out: “While the Solicitation supports education and training programs suited to this targeted population, the Department expects that once the programs are implemented, they would also benefit a wide range of individuals.”

* Eligible applicants must be from institutions that offer programs that can be completed in two years or less and be institutions of higher education under the Higher Education Act of 1965.

* Though cost sharing or matching funds are not requirements, “leveraging other resources is strongly encouraged.”

*Applicants must consult with their local public workforce system.

* Applications must also include a letter of commitment from at least one nearby employer partner.          

* DOL strongly recommends applicants fill out the get registered steps before writing a proposal or taking any other steps.

Evaluation Criteria

* Applications can receive up to 100 points, with 30 points devoted to a statement of need, or ability to prove the necessity of this program for the community; 45 points for work plan and project management, which includes evidence of strategies; and 25 points set aside for measurement of progress and outcomes, or a plan on how the program will evaluate itself during the grant period.

*The score out of 100 will account for the primary basis of the Department’s determination of grant recipients, but will also consider other factors, including ensuring all states receive at least 0.5 percent of the overall amount and the balance of grantees across the four previously identified priorities and strategies.