Workforce Training Fund Grants: Are You Leaving Training Dollars On the Table?

Nonprofits have training needs, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has training funds available for non-routine training programs – it’s a match made in heaven! If your nonprofit pays into the state’s Unemployment Insurance tax pool, then you could be eligible for training grants.

What types of workforce training grants (WTFG) are available in Massachusetts? They fall into two different program categories, but for both programs, the training should:

  • make a difference to company’s productivity, competitiveness, and ability to do business in Massachusetts, and
  • the training should result in job retention, job growth or increased wages.

For small, quick training programs, the Workforce Training Express Program is most flexible. It provides employers with a reimbursable $3,000 per employee per course if they use certified trainers from the Department of Employment and Training’s website:

To qualify for the Express Program, the nonprofit must have:

  • 100 or less employees
  • Must select from state’s pre-existing vendor and training lists, and
  • Funds must improve employee skills.

These grants are ideal for computer training, marketing/branding training, even English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), or math skills. Decisions for this program are made within a month of grant submittal.

General Program Training Grants:  up to $250,000

  • Applicants may use a training provider of their choice to train existing or new employees.

If you can make a case for improving business/job creation, or improving existing workers’ salaries, you can propose almost any kind of training!  Customer Service, Train-the-Trainer, Leadership Development all qualify under this program, as does ESOL.

Need ideas for submissions? Children’s Services of Roxbury received $226,412 to create a training plan for business growth and service expansion through various modules. The Training Plan tackled barriers to business growth and service expansion. It addressed all employees: management, supervisors, clinicians and behavioral health workers. One module trained low-wage, low-skill workers to improve their clinical documentation and verbal communication skills while creating a pathway to higher education. Another trained supervisors in management skills to reduce turnover, improve productivity and strengthen clinical quality. Other modules focused on reducing turnover of new clinicians, fostering the advancement of experienced clinicians, and improving clinical quality across the board to ensure competitiveness. Management modules taught key business practices including the transition to electronic health records, performance management systems, tracking outcomes and fiscal tools for program managers.

There are a few fine print items to note with the WTFG programs. They have to benefit Massachusetts workers (not contract workers, but salaried workers), and the employer must contribute a 50% match. Matches can be non-cash matches and include:

  • Employees’ average salaries (+ fringe!) during training, by category
  • Training Space
  • Any refreshments during training that you provide.

For each program, the grant contracting process with the state takes approximately six weeks, so factor that time in when thinking about your scheduling timeline. The state will not pay for costs incurred before a signed contract.

Some other states have similar workforce training program dollars, so check on your state’s website for comparable programs. The MA WTFG is available to both for-profit and non-profit organizations alike, but unlike private foundations, the success rate for funding is quite high for eligible projects.

So think ahead and determine your 2018 training needs now, to help subsidize the cost! As always, Proposals, Etc. is here to help you be successful.