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Deadline: March 16, 2016

U.S. Department of Labor: Strengthening Working Families Initiative

The U.S. Department of Labor is soliciting applications for the Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) grant program. While training and education can help move parents into better paying jobs, some of the barriers to employment also serve as barriers to training and education. The lack of access to affordable and consistent child care can keep parents from attending training and educational programs. As education and earnings are strongly linked, this funding opportunity supports providing access to education and training to help move parents along a career pathway that will lead to better paying jobs. This announcement also encourages applicants to develop an approach that provides skills training leading to family-supporting jobs for low- to middle-skilled parents while simultaneously developing and implementing a plan for the applicant’s community or region that helps families better navigate the existing complex systems of supportive services, including increased access to child care.

To help meet these objectives, the Department is interested in supporting evidence-based strategies or innovations based on these models that remove a range of barriers to training, including child care and other needs that working families face, by investing in education and skills training in combination with customized participant supportive services. Of particular interest are new promising ideas developed through human centered design methodology and behavioral insight research. Program strategies must include moving lower- to middle-skilled individuals into middle- to high-skilled jobs, with the goals of increasing family-supporting wages and enabling the success of the parent. In particular, the Department is interested in supporting parents who face a barrier to training, including child care and other participant supportive service needs, and are in need of increasing skills and competencies that will either prepare them for entry into an H-1B-aligned career pathway or advancement along an H-1B-aligned career pathway and into middle- or high-skilled jobs.

Through this announcement, the Department aims to address education and training barriers for low- to middle-skilled parents by prioritizing the needs of this targeted population; addressing child care needs for parents seeking education and training; increasing access to child care resources; and bridging the gap between the workforce development and child care systems. As applicants design their training strategies to meet the needs of working parents, they should consider the delivery methods and scheduling of training as important factors in providing the flexibility that working parents may require for participation in training. This may include adjusting curriculum design to provide flexible course offerings, expanding asynchronous learning options, or providing online courses. It could also include delivering training through banded schedules to enable parents to accommodate their work schedules and make it easier for working parents to make child care arrangements. Another possibility is the inclusion of training onsite at the workplace, particularly if child care is provided in the same location. An important element of the funding announcement is the need for communities to address how local areas will help parents navigate complex systems and access the child care services they need. The SWFI grants will provide the platform for strengthening partnerships between systems (workforce training providers and child care providers) to ensure consistency in care and flexibility in services.

Amount: Approximately $25,000,000 is available for grants of up to $4,000,000 each. Applicants are required to leverage cash or in-kind resources amounting to at least 25 percent of the total award.

Eligibility: Grants will be awarded to the lead applicant of a public and private partnership of entities that includes:

  • Entities involved in administering the public workforce system established under Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), including state and local Workforce Development Boards and American Job Center Operators
  • Education and training providers, such as community colleges, community-based and faith-based organizations, and “bootcamp” style tech programs
  • Child care service providers, child care programs, or local human services providers
  • Business entities, including business-related non-profit organizations and trade or industry associations such as local Chambers of Commerce, small business federations, and labor management organizations; organizations functioning as a workforce intermediary for the expressed purpose of serving the needs of businesses, which may include industry associations; consortium of three or more businesses; or one or more independent businesses

Eligible lead applicants are workforce entities; education and training providers; and business entities. Other partners are strongly encouraged, such as state and local governments, economic development agencies, and foundations and philanthropic organizations.

Link: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=280609

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