What is the Workforce Training Fund General Grant Program?
Eligible Applicants
Application Limits and Types
Employee Eligibility for Training
Trainers
Types of Training and Training Costs
Matching Funds
Financials
Review Process
How Can I Apply?
Getting the Training Program Started
Additional Information

 

What Is The Workforce Training Fund?

The Workforce Training Fund is a state fund financed entirely by Massachusetts employers, and enacted into law in July 1998. Its purpose is to provide resources to Massachusetts businesses and workers to train current and newly hired employees.

What is the mission of the Workforce Training Fund?
The mission of the Workforce Training Fund is to provide applicants with the resources to invest in the Massachusetts workforce and improve employee skills, and to maintain the economic strength and viability of the Commonwealth's businesses. The fund's major focus is on small to medium-sized businesses that would not be able to make this investment without the assistance of the fund. Training funded by this program should address the priorities of the fund:

  • Projects that will result in job retention, job growth or increased wages.
  • Projects where training would make a difference in the company's productivity, competitiveness, and ability to do business in Massachusetts.
  • Projects where the applicant has made a commitment to provide significant private investment in training for the duration of the grant, and after the grant has expired.

How is it funded?
It is funded by the Massachusetts employer community. During 1998, legislation was enacted reducing unemployment insurance contribution rates for Massachusetts employers by $121 million in 1999. In conjunction with these lower rates, legislation also established a new Workforce Training contribution of $18 million annually, effective January 1999.

How much money is available?
There are two categories of Workforce Training Fund General Program grants: 1. training grants and 2.technical assistance grants. Training grants will not exceed $250,000. Technical assistance grants will not exceed $25,000.


Eligible Applicants

Who is eligible to apply?
Training grants are direct grants awarded competitively to employers, employer organizations, labor organizations, training providers, and a consortium of such entities, to train current and newly hired workers. General Program award recipients within the last year will not be eligible to apply for new grants until the one year waiting period has elapsed from the end of the previous grant.

Technical assistance grants are grants to help an employer, or a group of employers or employees, determine a set of training needs. Eligible applicants for Technical Assistance grants include industry associations, labor organizations, community colleges, administrative entities for local workforce investment areas, and other entities with expertise in providing technical assistance for training.

Approved applicants must provide a Massachusetts Department of Revenue Certificate of Good Standing (not to be confused with a Certificate of Incorporation) and return contract execution documents. Please be advised that all applications to the Workforce Training Fund General Program must be accompanied by a Certificate in Good Standing (not to be confused with a Certificate of Incorporation) from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) (see sample certificate pdf format of Sample of Certificate of Good Standing
) certifying that all applicable business taxes are up-to-date. Applications will not be accepted without a certificate. Up until that time, in the event that your company is approved for funding, no grant agreement (contract) will be sent to you until a copy of a Certificate in Good Standing is provided by your company.

Contract execution requires, but is not limited to the following forms which are provided at this time for viewing only. Prepopulated forms will be sent when your application is approved.

Click here to find a menu of the most recent versions of the Commonwealth Terms and Conditions, Standard Contract Form, W-9 Form, and Contractor Authorized Signatory Listing.

May a nonprofit organization apply for Workforce Training Fund funds?
Yes, a nonprofit organization can apply for either training or technical assistance funds if they pay into the Workforce Training Fund. Remember, however, that applications should address the mission of the Workforce Training Fund by improving the competitiveness of Massachusetts companies and the skills of their employees, and by providing significant private investment during and after the training program. A nonprofit whose revenues are derived solely from state or federal government sources should not look to this Fund to supplement its revenue stream.

May units of state, local, or county government apply for Workforce Training Fund funds?
No, governmental entities may not apply for these funds. The intent of the Fund is to benefit Massachusetts businesses and their employees.

What size company is eligible to apply for training funds?
While the Workforce Training Fund's major focus is on small to medium-sized companies, companies of any size are eligible to apply for General Training Program Grants. All applicants must demonstrate, however, that it is unlikely that the training would occur without these funds.

May a non-Massachusetts-based company apply for training funds?
Yes, a non-Massachusetts-based company can apply for training funds provided the employees to be trained are based in Massachusetts.

Is it preferable to apply as a single organization, or to partner in a group with other eligible applicants?
Applications that come in from either a single organization or a group of partner organizations will have no inherent advantage over each other and will be given equal consideration. All applications will be judged on their own merits; it is up to each applicant to decide whether its specific goals would best be met by applying individually or as a member of a partnering group.

Will an organization's level of income, sales, earnings, or profits have any bearing on its ability to apply for Workforce Training funds?
No, the level of income, sales, earnings, or profits should not preclude an organization from applying for Workforce Training Fund funds. However, the economic soundness of an applicant's organization will be taken into consideration. In general, a grant will not be awarded to an applicant requesting 10 percent or more of its annual revenues.
 


Application Limits and Types

How many times can I apply?
General Program recipients will not be eligible to apply for new grants until the one year waiting period has elapsed from the completion of training. The limit on training funds is $250,000 per training grant for eligible applicants. However, applicants should be aware that an effort will be made to distribute funds across geographic areas, industry sectors, and occupations.

May I apply as both a single applicant as well as a member of a partnering group?
Yes, an organization may apply as both a single applicant as well as a member of a partnering group for different training needs. It is up to the organization to decide which type of application best meets its training needs.

When is the best time to apply?
General Program applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year.  In most cases, applicants will be notified of application outcomes within 60 days from submission of a complete application.

How long can my training program last?
Training programs must be completed within two years. Technical assistance projects are not expected to exceed twelve months.

What would a technical assistance application propose?
Technical assistance should be tailored to meet the needs of an individual employer or group of employers/employees and can include:

  • Working with a group of employers, employees, or a single employer to determine the existence of individual and/or shared training needs.
  • Designing and/or implementing a training needs assessment for an employer, a group of employers/employees - at their request.
  • Developing a training plan or plans based on the needs assessment.

Employee Eligibility for Training

Who is eligible for training?
Massachusetts-based employees are eligible. This means that workers whose training is funded by this program must be working at a location in the state.

If my worksite is in Massachusetts, but some employees live outside of Massachusetts, can these funds be used to train them?
Yes; as long as your employees work in Massachusetts, they are eligible for training regardless of where they live.

Can contract workers be trained with these funds?
No, contract employees are not eligible to be trained with these funds.

Can part-time employees be trained with Workforce Training Fund funds?
Yes, both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for training.


Trainers

Must I use an outside trainer?
No, training may be provided by in-house expert trainers or external vendors.

Must the training organization be Massachusetts-based?
No, the trainer need not be Massachusetts-based. But remember, all employees receiving training must work in Massachusetts.

Must the training occur in Massachusetts?
No, training can take place outside Massachusetts. However, applicants must demonstrate that such training and its related expenses are cost effective and reasonable.
 

Types of Training and Training Costs

What kind of training is allowable?
The Workforce Training Fund imposes few restrictions on training. What is taught, how it is taught, and when it is taught is up to the employer. There are no rigid standards for subject matter or hours of instruction. The duration of training may be up to two years.

Will the Fund pay for existing training that my company is already doing?
Generally, no. However, the Fund will pay for training that builds on existing training or provides existing training to a new set of employees. Funds will not be provided to subsidize existing, ongoing training that would be done without these funds.

Training must be job specific and program such as an elementary new employee orientation will not be funded, nor will a training program designed exclusively to meet a legal mandate, such as OSHA training.

Will the fund pay for apprenticeship training or training leading to state licensing?
The Workforce Training Fund does not fund union-sponsored apprenticeship training as it is mandated training and the cost of training is paid by union members as part of their dues. Nor does the program fund state-certified training as it is mandated training required to meet industry specific standards and is considered to be a continuing cost of business. The Workforce Training Fund will consider funding training if it is above and beyond the training required or mandated for state or union certification. However, it is the responsibility of the applicant to differentiate, in the application, the proposed training from the mandated training.

Is it necessary to train all of my employees in order to receive a grant?
No. In fact, most successful proposals focus on a limited number of employees to be trained. The goal is to design a training proposal that fits a clearly defined and well-focused training need or set of training needs in your organization.

Is computer training allowed?
Training in computer skills like Windows, Excel and Access may be considered under the following circumstances:

  • If it will provide computer skills to employees who have none, or
  • If the organization is installing computers for the first time, or is converting from an obsolete system.

Training costs must be market-based depending on the software, and the applicant must demonstrate the ability to support the software system at the end of the grant.

What are allowable training costs under a Workforce Training Fund grant?
Allowable training costs include those expenses that will occur during the course of the training grant period. They may include costs for training providers, tuition, and supplies and equipment used for the training. Other training related expenses may be requested through the grant; however, the costs for occupational licensing and costs for equipment that exceed 20 percent of the total grant are specifically discouraged.

There is no minimum or maximum amount that the program will invest per employee, but applications will be judged on cost effectiveness.

Is training through our company's tuition reimbursement program allowable?
Training through your company's established tuition reimbursement program is generally a disfavored activity. A degree or certificate granting program or a course of instruction that is specific, technical, focused and necessary to the company's continued competitiveness would be considered eligible for funding. However applicants should keep in mind the Workforce Training Fund will pay for training that builds on existing training but will not pay for existing training programs that would take place without these funds.

Are employees' wages while in training an allowable training cost?
Employees' wages are not an allowable training cost under the grant. They may be used to help meet the dollar- for-dollar matching requirement for grant funds.

May training funds be used to pay for the costs of certification associated with the proposed training?
No. Funds can be used to pay for the cost of training, but not for the costs of certification following the training. For example, the Workforce Training Fund will pay for ISO training costs, but not the cost of ISO certification.


Matching Funds

Who is responsible for providing matching funds under training or technical assistance grants?
Grants must be matched dollar for dollar. The applicant and its partners, if any, need to meet the match requirements and should decide how match requirements will best be met.

Applicants should keep in mind that one of the priorities of the fund is to encourage significant private investment in training.

What guidelines can I follow to determine what constitutes an appropriate match?
Match may be cash or in-kind and includes only those current or newly incurred costs that are directly related to undertaking the proposed training. Match may not include costs that are not part of the proposed training plan, but rather are general costs of doing business.


Financials

How will the required financial documents be used?
Financial documentation is requested in order to provide an overview of the applicant's basic financial stability. Financial information will not be used to make judgments about any organization's profitability relative to other applicants. All financial documents will be returned to the applicant upon completion of the review process.

Will these financials be kept confidential?
Measures are in place to assure the confidentiality of these documents. In fact, under newly passed legislation, all trade secrets and commercial or financial information provided with your application are completely shielded from public disclosure.


Review Process

How will applications be reviewed?
All applications undergo an internal staff screening prior to review by the Workforce Training Fund Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel consists of 9 members representing business and labor organizations. In addition, local Workforce Investment Boards may be asked to provide comments to the reviewers on applications from their area.

Will applications submitted by partnering groups have an advantage over single applicants?
No, each application will be judged on its merits.

What are the criteria for approval?
Training grants will be reviewed using the following criteria:

  • Comprehensiveness and soundness of the plan and qualifications of the trainer
  • Clear, measurable objectives, and likelihood of achieving those objectives
  • Budget, including cost effectiveness and financial information
  • Consistency with the Workforce Training Fund mission and priorities
  • Completeness of response to the application

Technical assistance grants will be reviewed using these criteria:

  • Need: How necessary is this to the employer/employees involved?
  • Project design and objectives
  • Organizational capacity
  • Budget and cost effectiveness
  • Consistency with fund mission and priorities
  • Completeness of application

In addition, the Workforce Training Fund Advisory Panel reviews the total mix of applications with an eye to geographical balance.

How will grants be approved?
Applications are reviewed by the Workforce Training Fund Advisory Panel, a board comprised of leaders from the business and labor communities.

How long will the grant approval process take?
Depending on the volume of applications, it is our goal to announce award decisions within six weeks of application deadlines.

What if my application is not approved?
Applicants will be informed in writing of the reasons their application was not approved and may re-apply in a subsequent round. On occasion, if the proposed program is not deemed consistent with the mission of the Workforce Training Fund, the applicant may be advised not to resubmit a specific application.
 

How Can I Apply?

How can my company or organization apply?
The new General Program application along with detailed instructions can be accessed in the General Program How to Apply section. To apply for the Technical Assistance Grant, please complete the Technical Assistance Grant pdf format of Technical Assistance Application
.

Who is administering this program?
 

The application process for the <strong>General Program</strong> is being administered by:

Commonwealth Corporation
2 Oliver Street
Fifth Floor
Boston, MA 02109
Call: 617-717-6927
Fax: 617-242-7660
E-mail: rduncan@commcorp.org

How do I get assistance and additional information?
 

For additional assistance, please contact:
Robert Duncan
Workforce Training Fund
Commonwealth Corporation
2 Oliver Street
Fifth Floor
Boston, MA 02109
Call: 617-717-6927
Fax: 617-242-7660
E-mail: rduncan@commcorp.org


Getting the Training Program Started

What are my financial obligations?
The total amount of the grant must be matched on at least a dollar-for-dollar basis by the applicant and/or partner organizations. The match may be cash or in-kind.

What additional paperwork is required?
Grantees will complete a grant activity summary to accompany each request for payment and will be asked to provide an evaluation on the project's effectiveness upon its completion.

How and when will I receive grant funds?
Following completion of a contract with the Department of Career Services, applicants may request 25 percent of grant funds immediately through submission of a grant payment voucher. Remaining funds will be distributed upon submission of additional grant payment vouchers accompanied by a brief grant activity summary. The final 25 percent of funds will be distributed upon receipt of a final financial and programmatic report. It is important to note that no Workforce Training funds may be expended prior to execution of a contract with the Department of Career Services.

When can I actually start my training program?
Workforce Training Fund dollars may be spent upon execution of a contract with the Department of Career Services. It is expected that the contracting process will take no longer than 30 days.


Additional Information

If I receive a grant will there be tax implications?
There may be tax implications for receipt of a Workforce Training Fund Express grant. Grantees are encouraged to discuss these implications with their tax advisors. Please note: For the seven years following the closing of the grant, it may be subject to audit.