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Applications open February 22 for second round of Workforce Innovation Grants

February 10, 2022
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Up to $40.5 million in grants available to promote local and regional solutions to workforce challenges

MADISON, FEB. 10, 2022 – Applications will open February 22, 2022, for the second round of Workforce Innovation Grants of up to $10 million to local and regional projects that will help meet the state’s next-generation workforce needs, Governor Tony Evers announced today.

The Workforce Innovation Grant Program provides a total of $100 million to communities to develop groundbreaking, long-term solutions so businesses can find workers, workers can connect to jobs, and Wisconsin can thrive, Governor Evers said. In December, Governor Evers announced the first round of 12 Workforce Innovation Grant recipients, who will receive up to a total of $59.5 million.

“Wisconsinites are hardworking by nature — it’s in our DNA — so, with record-low unemployment and the lowest number of people unemployed in state history, we’re working to find creative, sustainable solutions to the most pressing workforce challenges facing our state,” he said. “In the first round, this program provided critical funds to expand access to childcare for working families, increase opportunities for job training and reskilling, and foster entrepreneurship in communities. I look forward to awarding grants in this second round to projects that continue to tear down barriers to employment for workers across our state.”

The first round of projects funded by Workforce Innovation Grants include public-private partnerships to train and attract health care workers throughout rural Wisconsin; develop next-generation advanced manufacturing employees in west-central and southeast Wisconsin; expand affordable, high-quality child care in Door County, Green County, and south-central Wisconsin; create pipelines of young, educated workers in Milwaukee; train construction and skilled craft workers throughout the state; foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Kenosha; and enable incarcerated individuals to earn undergraduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin System.

The Workforce Innovation Grant Program offers grants from $250,000 up to $10 million to regional economic development partners to design and implement innovative plans to tackle their communities’ most pressing workforce challenges.

The grants, which are funded with federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) money, will be available to nonprofit or governmental entities to help implement collaborative, innovative plans to tackle a specific region’s most pressing workforce challenge.

Grant funds can be used to meet local workforce needs, such as childcare, transportation issues, upskilling and re-skilling workers, or career counseling and coaching services, and may be used to support initiatives like training, planning, marketing, or developing pilot programs that can be applied in other communities. Grant funds cannot be used to replace existing public resources.

The grants are administered through an interagency effort between the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
WEDC secretary and CEO Missy Hughes, DWD secretary-designee Amy Pechacek, and other Cabinet secretaries have been meeting with recipients of the first-round grants to learn more about the projects and how the state can ensure they succeed.

“The most exciting part of these grants is the way communities have come together and really worked out unique, groundbreaking solutions that will meet their current and long-term workforce needs,” said Secretary Hughes.

“To build on Wisconsin’s unprecedented economic turnaround and fully utilize our potential talent, this next round of Workforce Innovation Grants will support regional partners in their efforts to tackle local challenges,” said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. “In addition to removing employment barriers, we’re excited to see how these grants will be used to connect workers with in-demand skills and rewarding employment opportunities.”

Grant applications, frequently asked questions, and program guidelines will be available on the WEDC website at wedc.org/workforce-innovation-grant. A webinar on the updated application process is scheduled for 12 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Applications for Round 2 grants are due no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on April 15, 2022, with awards announced in the summer of 2022.

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