B - Readily funds technology as part of an award
Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
This second round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants (SCC2) will increase the capacity and responsiveness of community colleges to close equity gaps in addressing skill development needs of employers and workers, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration's priorities to leverage and advance community colleges. Awarded grants will focus on accelerated learning strategies that support skill development, rapid reskilling, and employment through targeted industry sectors and career pathway approaches. These strategies will also address identified equity gaps to increase full access to educational and economic opportunity– particularly for individuals from historically underrepresented and marginalized populations and communities.
This Opportunity is built around four core elements: 1) Advancing Equity, 2) Accelerated Career Pathways, 3) Results-Driven Project Design, and 4) Sustainable Systems Change.
With respect to evidence, applicants are asked to justify why the proposed strategies are likely to lead to the proposed outcomes, and illustrate that using a logic model. All those receiving an award are required to do a rigorous implementation or developmental evaluation through a qualified third-party, and this is an allowable cost of the award. In addition, applicants may opt to apply for additional evaluation funding beyond the standard grant award range to support a rigorous outcome, impact, or behavioral interventions study that assesses the effectiveness of the interventions, including whether the service delivery advances equity or other outcomes.
Applicants may apply as individual institutions of higher education (institutions) or as part of a consortium of institutions. For both single and consortium applicants, the lead entity 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 degree is primarily the highest degree awarded. The Department will award bonus points to lead applicants that are Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges or Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions, or Strengthening Institutions Programs using Department of Education eligibility indicators. Consortium applicants can be organized around a state focus, a regional labor market focus, or an affinity focus, which is further described in Section III.A.1. Employers and the public workforce development system are required partners in all projects, which also encourage additional strategic partnerships to support successful employment outcomes for participants and sustainable systems change for community colleges.
While matching funds are not required, leveraged funding and resources (including existing curricula) are strongly encouraged.
Two types of funding for this training initiative are available through this Announcement: SCC2 Program Grants and Additional SCC2 Evaluation Funding.
History of Funding
Past awards are available to view here: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ETA/skillstraining/SCC-Overview-and-Abstracts-rev.pdf
This grant program builds on the learnings from the four rounds of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants, which focused on capacity building at community colleges and large-scale systems change within community college consortia. TAACCCT evaluations provided many relevant insights into the investments and partnerships necessary to drive systems change to address the skills development and retraining needs of adult workers and learners, and these provide a foundation for the Strengthening Community Colleges grant program. This second round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants builds on TAACCCT learnings and the first round of SCC investments, with a new focus on advancing equity by identifying and addressing equity gaps that directly or indirectly impact labor market outcomes for underrepresented and marginalized populations and communities. SCC2 aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration's vision to build community college capacity for in-demand skills training through strategic partnerships between industry, education, and the workforce system.
Ultimately, these grants should build the capacity of community colleges to equitably increase access to employment through educational and economic opportunity, by focusing on specific industry sectors and career pathways that will lead to skill development, rapid reskilling, and employment in quality jobs. These efforts will yield sustainable systems-level changes in education and training through collaboration between community colleges, employers and the public workforce development system that align education and training, work experiences, and industry-recognized credentials that lead to career growth.
SCC2 grants will focus on advancing equitable employment throughout the grant program, specifically equity gaps in opportunities for credentials, and equity in employment outcomes for the participants served by the community colleges, and may also include increasing the capacity of the colleges to make sustainable shifts in how they support equitable employment.
To ensure that SCC2 projects accomplish the goals stated above in Section I.A., the Department will fund applications that address, in their proposals, the following SCC Core Elements.
- Core Element 1: Advancing Equity In determining a project design for this Announcement, applicants will need to ask themselves, What are the critical equity gaps that we want to target that impact both employment and the education that supports employment opportunities – and why? What practices, policies, and leadership changes are needed to increase our capacity to support equitable employment? What does the available evidence say about interventions that are likely to be successful for advancing equity?" Pursuant to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, the term equity” means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”
- Core Element 2: Accelerated Career Pathways In determining a project design for this Announcement, applicants will also need to ask themselves, Given our local context, which career pathway(s), and which enhancement strategies to accelerate movement along those career pathways, offer the best opportunities to address the identified equity gaps for improved employment outcomes? What does the available evidence say about the strategies that will more likely lead to successful outcomes?" Career pathway programs offer a clear sequence of education coursework and/or training credentials aligned with employer-validated work readiness standards and competencies, and integrate academic and occupational skills training. A career pathway system is the cohesive combination of partnerships, resources and funding, policies, data, and shared accountability measures that support the development, quality, scaling, and dynamic sustainability of career pathways and programs for youth and adults. To realize the potential of career pathways, stakeholders must work simultaneously and iteratively on both the programmatic and systems levels.
- Core Element 3: Results-Driven Project Design In determining a project design for this Announcement, applicants will need to ask themselves, How can we design and implement a work plan to support results-driven outcomes and report findings?" A results-driven project design connects the needs that a project intends to address, its theory of change based on available evidence, and its proposed evidence-informed activities to a framework that explicitly lays out the logical connections for how the project will deliver the intended outcomes, including the required performance outcomes and additional outcomes of interest. By requiring that applicants follow a results-driven process for designing and managing their grant-funded projects, this FOA seeks to ensure that applicants and their project partners identify the data they will need to validate the project's design. This approach gives successful applicants a process to more systemically assess their progress and performance, and the opportunity to learn from and improve their projects over time based on data that their projects generate over the life of their grant periods.
- Core Element 4: Sustainable Systems Change In determining a project design for this Announcement, applicants will need to ask themselves, How can we ensure that the systems changes we make are institutionalized and sustained over the long term? What does the available evidence say about the strategies that will more likely lead to sustainable systems change?” Systems change with respect to workforce development refers to efforts and initiatives that go beyond providing direct services to individual jobseekers and aim to transform how organizations effectively support employers and the workforce” (Bernstein & Martin-Caughey 2017, p. 1, Appendix E). A key lesson from TAACCCT is that embedding collaboration as a core element of an initiative” can help community colleges implement their systems change and capacity-building efforts (Eyster et al. 2020, p. xiii, Appendix B). Primary stakeholders in this collaboration include industry and employers, the public workforce development system, other institutions of higher education, unions, labor-management organizations, community-based organizations, and the departments and offices internal to community colleges.
The eligible lead applicant 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 whose most common degree awarded is an associate degree. Awards made under this program will go to lead applicants that meet one of the following definitions:
- Single Institution: A community college that is a public institution as defined in Section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act, and at which the associate degree is primarily the highest degree awarded, as shown by the college's designation at https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/. A single institution lead applicant must partner with one or more workforce development system partners, and required employer partner(s), as described below. Together, the required and optional partners are referred to as a Strengthening Community Colleges (SCC) Training Grants Partnership (or SCC Partnership). The requirements for required and optional partners are described below in Section III.A.5. SCC Partnership. Applicants must list all partners in the abstract. The Department expects that a single institution will align the SCC2 grant with the geographic area served by that college; it also may align the grant with additional geographic regions of other colleges in its state, as permitted by institutional guidelines.
- Institution Consortium: A lead applicant representing a consortium of institutions, 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 degree is primarily the highest degree awarded, as shown by the college's designation at https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/. Consortium members may include community colleges and public and private, non-profit four-year institutions, as defined in Section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act. Grants will be awarded to the lead applicant of the institution consortium, which will serve as the grantee and have overall fiscal and administrative responsibility for the grant. An institution consortium must include at least the consortium lead and one other institution, but the Department anticipates that more than two colleges will be required to accomplish the goals of the consortium, depending on the specific consortium focus. The institution consortium must partner with one or more workforce development system partners, and employer partner(s), as described below. Together the required and optional partners are referred to as a Strengthening Community Colleges (SCC) Training Grants Partnership (or SCC Partnership).
All applicants must include in their SCC Partnership an employer partnership consisting of an industry/trade association or an employer sector consortium of at least three employers, for each proposed industry sector. The Department of Labor also strongly encourages applicants to collaborate with other partners that can support and advance the work of the SCC Partnership, such as unions or labor-management organizations, community-based organizations that provide social supports and/or wrap-around services, state-level or community college district-level entity, tribal entities, technical colleges, State Apprenticeship Agencies, federally funded programs, foundations, and philanthropic organizations.
Applications are to be submitted by June 2, 2022. A similar deadline is anticipated, annually.
We expect availability of approximately $45,000,000 to fund SCC2 Program Grants, including up to $5 million that may be used for Additional SCC2 Evaluation Funding. Applicants may apply for a ceiling amount of up to $5,000,000 for SCC2 program grants.
SCC2 Program Grants: Single institution applicants may apply for a ceiling amount of $1.6 million and consortium lead applicants may apply for a ceiling amount of $5 million. The minimum for both types of applicants is $1.5 million. Subject to receiving sufficient applications of fundable quality, DOL intends to award at least 75 percent of grant funds to consortium applicants and the remaining grant funds to single institution applicants. DOL anticipates that the funding as described in this FOA will yield approximately 5-7 consortia grants and 6-8 single institution grants.
Affinity-focused consortia may be awarded grants alongside State-focused or labor market focused consortia. In addition, up to $5 million of SCC2 Program Grant funds will be set aside for one or more qualifying affinity-focused consortium applicants.
Additional SCC2 Evaluation Funding: Subject to receiving applications of fundable quality, DOL may award up to $5 million out of the total amount available for Strengthening Community College Training Grants in the form of Additional SCC2 Evaluation Funding, to provide additional funding for rigorous evaluation to approximately 2-4 applicants who are selected for SCC2 Program Grants.
Consortium and single institution applicants may apply to exceed their respective maximum funding level of $5 million and $1.6 million by proposing an impact, outcome, or behavioral intervention evaluation.
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. Instead, the agency considers any resources contributed to the project beyond the funds provided by the agency as leveraged resources.
The period of performance is 48 months with an anticipated start date of September 1, 2022.
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