Pay for Performance Operating Grant Program

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The Pay for Performance Operating Grant Program will support the operational resource needs of workforce training programs offering specialized job training in the following high-demand industries:

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Materials
  • Biotech and Life Sciences
  • Cleantech and Renewable Energy
  • Construction
  • Electronics and Optics, Photonics, and Imaging (OPI)
  • Film and Television Production and Post-Production
  • Software and Digital Media

The following is an overview of the Operating Grant program requirements. The full program guidelines can be found here.

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The Pay for Performance Operating Grants seek to facilitate innovative, sustainable, and impactful approaches to workforce development. Applicants can apply for funding to be used for a variety of working capital and/or programmatic expenses related to a new program or expansion of an existing program such as curricula development, instruction and instructional materials, technology, marketing, and/or trainee supports, etc. 

The Operating Grants track will cover the programmatic expenses related to the establishment of a new program, or the expansion of an existing training program that implements in-demand skills training, catalyzes creative approaches to workforce development for long-term impact, and is responsive to industries and the needs of trainees.

Funding assistance for the Operating Grants track will range from $50,000 to $2,000,000 for projects in one region, and up to $10,000,000 for projects with a physical presence in two or more regions. Funding requests should be proportionate to the number of regions and trainees served. ESD may provide up to seventy-five percent (75%) of total project cost. Preference will be given to applicants leveraging more than the minimum twenty-five percent (25%) of the project cost from additional sources.

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Eligible Applicants include:

  • Community-based organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations
  • Certain Governmental Organizations (such as workforce development boards, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), municipalities, etc.)
  • Higher educational institutions (public or private four-year colleges/universities, or two-year technical/community colleges)
  • Career & technical education providers
  • Organized labor training programs
  • For-profit training providers                                                                          

Some Eligibility Requirements:

  • Applicants must have an established track record of effective training and trusted relationships within priority communities. This is demonstrated in the application through a variety of metrics including completion and placement rates, consistent and/or growing enrollment, and providing services that support participant success including wraparound services such as childcare, transportation, career coaching, etc.
  • Applicants must demonstrate the organizational and financial management expertise to successfully implement the project through previous experience.
  • Applications must demonstrate that the training program will prepare participants for in-demand, good jobs with career advancement. Applicants will be asked to describe how their training leads to “good jobs,” or skilled jobs that pay minimally a living wage for workers to support themselves in the modern economy, allow for career and salary growth, provide economic security, and remove the need for public assistance.
  • Applications must be developed in partnership with a business or multiple businesses to maximize industry focused curriculum development and promote direct job placement.
  • The required letters of commitment from industry partners should explain the company’s specific role(s) in the project such as financial commitment, involvement in curriculum development, instructional partner, apprenticeship/internship/job placement partner, recruitment of program trainees, projected hiring needs, etc.
  • Preference will be given to training programs that provide opportunities for direct job placement and those involving proactive placement approaches, such as job shadowing, internships, partnerships with companies that will hire participants for full-time employment, and programs that provide post-placement support.

Detailed eligibility information can be found in the Pay for Performance program guidelines.

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Eligible Uses of Funds

Funding can be used for a variety of programmatic expenses related to a new program or expansion of an existing program. Eligible training program expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Curricula development
  • Instruction and instructional materials
  • Technology specifically required for training
  • Credentialing exam fees
  • Marketing expenses or outreach activities to foster participant recruitment of target populations
  • Services to foster job placement and retention  
  • Participant stipends, wraparound services, and trainee supports, or activities that will be made available to program participants to reduce barriers to training (i.e., childcare, online programming, public transit passes or other transportation supports, career coaching, and professional skills or success skills training)
  • Impact data collection and analysis
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Evaluation Criteria

Applications for funding through the Operating Grant track will be evaluated on the extent to which they fulfill the goals of the program and meet the following criteria:

Project Concept and Readiness

  • The training program provides career pathway opportunities for entry-level and mid-skill workers in high demand, good jobs as demonstrated by the detailed project description and industry partners.
  • The training program targets un/underemployed, underrepresented, underserved populations, and/or incumbent workers or other marginalized populations.
  • Applicant demonstrates sufficient planning to implement within the stated timeline as shown through application materials which will include a detailed project description and timeline for implementation with proposed actions and deliverables.
  • The project can commence within six months of award.

Project Budget and Sustainability

  • The submitted budget is complete, and all sources and uses of funds are clearly documented.
  • The budget does not include any uses of funds listed in the Use Restrictions section.
  • The budget has matching funds from the private sector, including prospective financial contributions from industry partners benefitting from the training program (not required but preferred).
  • Matching funds in the budget are not exclusively in-kind, demonstrating the ability for the project to get started and operate with reimbursement funding from ESD. 
  • There is evidence that the project can be sustained beyond the grant period.
  • The budget and application narrative demonstrate a need for this funding that cannot be obtained through other sources.

Project Partnerships and Innovation

  • The project has been developed in partnership with multiple businesses to ensure it trains for in-demand skills and to maximize job placement following training.
  • The project employs multiple workforce development strategies to address diverse and complex worker issues.
  • The project utilizes effective and innovative outreach and recruitment methods for target populations.
  • If the applicant organization does not primarily serve a target population, they have developed partnerships with community-based organizations to ensure diverse and equitable access to training and education programs.

Program Impact

  • The applicant presents evidence that there is a need for the project to address a specific challenge in both the industry it will assist and the population it will serve.
  • The applicant demonstrates industry buy-in through letters submitted by partner companies listed in the application that explain the company’s involvement in the program, including anticipated hiring needs, potential commitment to provide interviews for trained candidates, internships, or job shadowing.
  • The applicant demonstrates actions to ensure a high job retention rate such as availability of wraparound services.
  • The applicant demonstrates an effective way to measure the impact of the program and meet data reporting requirements.
  • The applicant demonstrates a commitment to serving historically marginalized communities or has meaningful partnership(s) with organizations serving these communities to ensure diverse and equitable access to training and education programs.

Support Services

  • The project includes meaningful trainee supports (wraparound services), or activities that will be made available to program participants to reduce barriers to training access or effectiveness, and job retention. These may include childcare, online programming, public transit passes or other transportation supports, career coaching, professional skills or success skills training, free or reduced programming, etc.
  • Applicant Experience, Qualifications, and Capacity
  • The applicant and affiliated partners demonstrate they have the capacity to complete the project.
  • The project partners have previously successfully completed projects of a similar scale.
  • The applicant has an established track record of effective training and trusted relationships within the communities it serves.
  • ESD funding will increase the capacity of this organization to enable its future success.