Funding Opportunity Announcement for Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants – Due October 8, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employment and Training Administration has released a funding opportunity announcement requesting applications for its new 2020 Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants program. Grant funding levels range from $1 million to $5 million per project and there is no matching requirement.  

What is the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants program?

The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants program (SCC) will build the capacity of community colleges to collaborate with employers and the public workforce development system to meet local and regional labor market demand for a skilled workforce. The purpose of this grant is to:  

  1. Increase the capacity and responsiveness of community colleges to address the skill development needs of employers and dislocated and unemployed workers, incumbent workers, and new entrants to the workforce;
  2. Offer this spectrum of workers and other individuals accelerated career pathways that enable them to gain skills and transition from unemployment to (re)employment quickly; and
  3. Address the new challenges associated with the COVID-19 health crisis that necessitate social distancing practices and expanding online and technology-enabled learning and migrating services to a virtual environment.

Who is eligible to apply? 

Eligible lead applicants are required to meet one of the following definitions:

  • Single Institution: A community college that is a public institution of higher education as defined in Section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act, and at which the associate’s degree is primarily the highest degree awarded, as shown by the college’s designation as a community college here. A single institution lead applicant must partner with one or more workforce development system partners, and employer partners as described below; otherwise the application will be considered non-responsive and will not be considered. Together, the required and optional partners are referred to as a Strengthening Community Colleges (SCC) Training Grants Partnership. The requirements for required and optional partners are described in the 2020 SCC FOA (provided below), Section III.A.3. SCC Partnership.
  • Consortium Lead: A lead applicant representing a consortium of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), as defined in Section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act. The consortium lead must be a community college that is a public institution of higher education as defined in Section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act, and at which the associate’s degree is primarily the highest degree awarded, as shown by the college’s designation as a community college here. Consortium members may include community colleges and public and private, non-profit four-year IHEs, as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act. For consortium applicants, the Department is requiring IHEs to apply for this funding as a consortium of colleges that will undertake systems change within one state, or across one or more community college districts within a state system. The IHE consortium must partner with an IHE coordinating entity, one or more workforce development system partners, and employer partners as described below; otherwise the application will be considered non-responsive and will not be considered. Together the required and optional partners are referred to as a Strengthening Community Colleges (SCC) Training Grants Partnership. The requirements for required and optional partners are described in the 2020 SCC FOA (provided below), Section III.A.3. SCC Partnership.

Grants will be awarded to the lead applicant of a SCC Partnership, which will serve as the grantee and have overall fiscal and administrative responsibility for the grant.

What types of project activities are eligible? DOL anticipates that the majority of applicants will include four specific types of eligible/ allowable activities to support their work:

  • Hiring and/or training instructors or staff (including the costs of salaries and benefits) to assist in the development and/or delivery of new or adapted curricula, development of online and distance learning, and in the establishment of internships, Registered Apprenticeship, or clinical/cooperative education programs at employer sites;
  • Purchasing or upgrading classroom supplies and equipment (with prior approval of the grant officer) and/or educational technologies that will contribute to the instructional purpose in education and training courses supported by the grant;
  • Costs associated with implementing changes in the time or scheduling of courses; and
  • Costs associated with implementing data integration tools.

Other allowable activities are detailed in the 2020 SCC FOA provided below.  

What are DOL’s project recommendations? DOL claims that successful applicants will do the following:

  • Design and align their education and training courses to respond to the labor market needs of their regional and state economies. They will adopt policies and processes to accelerate learning strategies through new and redesigned curricula, update investments in training infrastructure, develop technology-enhanced learning activities, and align and effectively use data systems.
  • Actively engage employers through partnerships with industry to enhance career pathways, create and refine curricula development, offer work-based learning opportunities, such as Registered Apprenticeships, and leverage resources. In doing so, applicants are encouraged to build on successful ongoing industry sector strategies. These sector strategies will target one or more specific industries, and work to meet the workforce needs of employers in the sector(s), while supporting dislocated and unemployed workers, incumbent workers, and new entrants to the workforce in attaining the necessary skills and credentials.
  • Develop, expand, or improve education and training programs informed by real-time labor market information obtained through state and local workforce development boards and feedback from employer partners.

Will there be priority consideration for specific applicants?

Applicants that demonstrate, in their abstract, that at least one census tract within their physical service area is designated by the Secretary of Treasury as a qualified Opportunity Zone will receive two bonus points toward their overall application score. Applicants will not receive additional points for multiple Opportunity Zones within the proposed physical service area.

What is the funding level and project duration of the grant?  

Single institution applicants may apply for a ceiling amount of up to $5 million. The minimum for both types of applicants is $1 million.

DOL expects availability of approximately $40 million to fund approximately 8-16 grants. Subject to receiving sufficient applications of fundable quality, DOL intends to award at least 75 percent of grant funds to consortia applicants and the remaining 25 percent of grant funds to single institution applicants.

The period of performance is 48 months with an anticipated start date of January 1, 2021

Is there a cost-sharing/ match requirement?

This program does not require cost sharing or matching funds. Including such funds is not one of the application screening criteria and applications that include any form of cost sharing or match will not receive additional consideration during the review process.

When are applications due?

Applications must be submitted no later than October 8, 2020 at 4:00 pm Eastern.

The full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is available here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530-893-4764.

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