New America Foundation

03/04/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/04/2024 08:48

$100 million federal funding opportunity will support states’ apprenticeship expansion efforts

March 4, 2024

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) announced $100 million in funding as part of the State Apprenticeship Expansion Formula Grants (SAE) program. SAE is a five-year grant program that funds states to expand registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) in priority sectors and among underserved and underrepresented populations. The first round of grantees were released in 2023, and this recent announcement marks the program's second round of funding. With this new installment, USDOL aims to:

  • Advance the RAP system as both a post-secondary education career pathway and workforce development strategy.
  • Support integrated statewide strategies and state capacity to engage employers and meet demand for new programs in both traditional and nontraditional fields.
  • Build state capacity to increase RAP opportunities for workers from underrepresented populations and underserved communities, including youth, among others.

While youth are not the sole focus of this funding opportunity, these goals suggest USDOL is interested in supporting state efforts to better serve young people through RAPs, especially those that are connected with secondary and postsecondary education systems.

This funding opportunity makes SAE funding available in two categories: 1) formula-funded base grants and 2) competitive funding. In this installment, USDOL plans to award up to $50 million in each category.

Formula Base Grants

USDOL provides formula base grants to help states "serve, improve, and strategically expand the National Apprenticeship System." In the announcement, the department specifies that aligning the RA system with the state career and technical education system is a particular priority for the formula grants. Youth apprenticeship programs may be especially well positioned to support systems alignment efforts given their existing linkages with CTE systems at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels.

The formula-funded base grants are awarded based on a state's share of registered apprentices and other regional labor market indicators. USDOL may award formula grants to as many as all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico. In the last round of funding, for example, 45 states and territories received base grants, ranging in size from $265,000 (Guam) to $2.2 million (Texas).

Competitive Funding

The department plans to award up to 10 competitive grants to states with the ability to take on "new opportunities for innovation, equity, expansion, and modernization in Registered Apprenticeship." The competitive awards will range in size from $1 million to $6 million.

Competitive funding applicants must identify at least two program activities from a USDOL-provided list that it would support with a competitive SAE grant. This activity list includes several options that will be of particular interest for youth apprenticeship leaders:

Expanding RAP opportunities for youth. Most notably for youth apprenticeship partners, "Expand[ing] RAP opportunities for youth between the ages of 16 and 24" is among the activities on this list. This includes the establishment and expansion of partnerships between employers, K-12 schools, community colleges, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders in order to expand RAPs and/or pre-apprenticeships for youth. For states who select this activity, it may present an exciting opportunity to fund the all-important "intermediary functions" - i.e., the coordination and administration efforts across partners that are vital to youth apprenticeship programs but are often challenging to fund.

Funding RAP-connected pre-apprenticeship programs. Another competitive funding activity option is the direct funding of pre-apprenticeship programs that lead straight to RAP enrollment. Awardees who select this option will have the flexibility to use the funds to support any "pre-apprenticeship activities that increase opportunities to create career pathways for youth and adults."

Providing supportive services. Youth apprenticeship programs may also be interested in the activity that focuses on the provision of different training services to apprentices, especially those from underserved communities (which can include youth) and underrepresented populations. The announcement specifies that training services includes supportive services like housing, transportation, childcare, and counseling - all of which are often necessary to ensure that the most economically vulnerable youth apprentices stay enrolled and engaged in their program.

Applying for SAE Funding

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico are eligible applicants. In their applications, states must designate a state agency to be the grant recipient responsible for administering the funds. Implementation partners are required to provide a signed letter of commitment or memorandum of understanding (MOU) as part of the application package.

Competitive funding awardees from the first round of SAE grants are not eligible to receive competitive funding in this second installment. Applicants for competitive funding must also apply for a formula base grant. USDOL will not consider applications for competitive funding that do not include an application for formula funding.

To view the full announcement and learn how to apply, visit the Grants Notice (FOA-ETA-24-03) on Applications close on April 4, 2024 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

For more information about another recently announced grant program, Apprenticeship Building America, see New America's recent blog post, USDOL Announces $95 Million Apprenticeship Investment.

Related Topics

Federal FundingWorkforce Development & CTEYouth ApprenticeshipApprenticeship