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On May 29, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) hosted a webinar during which they offered recommendations and application tips for developing a proposal to the Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) grant program

Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) is a grant program from the U.S. Department of Labor in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, and the Northern Border Regional Commission. The WORC program aims to fund grants in rural communities that connect workforce development with economic growth, while addressing inequities for historically marginalized communities that have struggled with economic changes and slow recovery.

To support you in applying for WORC and enhance your chances of application success, we’ve compiled a summary of ARC’s considerations below:

  • Pay close attention to self-imposed definitions
      • You’ll be held to:
        • Specific numbers, if any, you attribute to sub-metrics
        • Words and phrases you use to describe results
        • Designated service regions and participant types
          • You cannot add or subtract counties without seeking an amendment (which may or may not be granted)
  • Forecast cost and timeline
      • Build in raises or cost of living adjustments if they are standard for your organization
      • Include increases in cost of supplies and materials over time, as well as costs for outreach and recruitment – with explanations
      • Consider all the startup time needed vs. how many participants you can serve
      • Align pacing with school schedules or seasonality
        • For example, some grantees have done school-based training, resulting in large numbers at the beginning of the school year or semester
      • Include data management/systems needs 
        • Previous grantees have struggled with this, leading to budget amendments or unexpected and less-than-ideal project shifts
  • Set partners and participants up for success
    • Previous grantees have stated they wished they incorporated the below considerations from the outset:
      • Consider abilities and basic skill development, and identify needed wraparound services
      • Choose training programs and credentials you are confident will be recognized and valued by local employers
      • Consider other value–adds that will help garner buy-in
      • Diversify employer partners to the extent possible
      • Come to mutual understanding with partners

Overall, keep in mind that grants are typically awarded based on a specific scope, though you can write a proposal that is less specific. There is no single rule of thumb as to whether more or less specificity will be favorable by a reviewer. Rather, it depends on the entire makeup of the application.

Visit this page to watch a recording of the webinar, “WORC Round 6 Webinar: Project Development Considerations from Grantee Lessons Learned.”

Good luck in your application! You can receive support applying for federal funding through the JTF’s Federal Access Center. Learn more about our FAC or fill out our brief inquiry form

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