For Immediate Release - December 21, 2015

Baker-Polito Administration Announces New $9.2 Million Skills Capital Grants

Program is an initiative launched by Governor Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet

HOLYOKE, MA, DECEMBER 18, 2015….The Baker-Polito Administration announced today the availability of $9.2 million in Skills Capital Grants for vocational-technical equipment investments to improve the quality of education and vocational training, provide career technical training to increase program capacity and enable students to improve their skills to meet the needs of employers in the Commonwealth.

“The skills gap is real across the country, and many companies cannot find the talent they need to fill positions and further develop their local economic impact,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By investing in capital equipment at vocational and technical schools that are focused on training we will ensure more residents get the skills they need to get good paying jobs in growing industries across the Commonwealth.”

The new grant program is part of the efforts of the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet to align education, workforce and economic development strategies across the state. Governor Baker tapped Education Secretary James Peyser, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker, II and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash to work together to develop policies to improve economic and job training opportunities for residents of the Commonwealth.

“Improving the skills of our already world-class workforce can be a real asset to our economy and those still looking for a job,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “These investments will help us to take advantage of that workforce and economic potential across Massachusetts.”

The Cabinet secretaries announced the availability of the Skills Capital Grants at the future site of Holyoke Community College’s Center for Culinary and Hospitality Excellence, located in the heart of the Holyoke Innovation District, which is experiencing significant investment and growth. The Culinary and Hospitality Center is being funded by a $1.75 million capital grant from the former Manufacturing Training Equipment Grant program, which is being combined with the Vocational Opportunity Challenge Grants to create the new Skills Capital Grant. The Holyoke grant was awarded from a prior funding round. High demand for career training programs like Holyoke’s led to the creation, and expansion in scope, of the Skills Capital Grant program.

“Companies need to be able to attract and retain the best employees in the Commonwealth,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker, II said. “We are packaging our resources from the different Secretariats to help educational institutions create a pipeline of skilled workers.” 

The new $9.2 million Skills Capital Grant brings the total Fiscal Year 2016 investment in vocational technical training equipment to $12.8 million, more than three times the Fiscal Year 2015 level of $4.1 million. By combining these grants, applicants have opportunities for larger grant awards and the application process is streamlined.

“Massachusetts is committed to connecting residents to career pathways and economic opportunities,” Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said. “By investing in training equipment, we are helping workers acquire the skills they need to access in-demand jobs.” 

“These new grants reflect the Administration’s commitment to strengthening regional capabilities in career and technical education by aligning our educational programs with jobs of the future,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “By combining and streamlining two former grant programs, we will have a bigger impact on the lives of students and communities across the Commonwealth.”

“We are proud and excited to see the expansion of Holyoke Community College’s Culinary Arts program into a larger center which will provide critical skills to our residents for jobs available that are available now” said Holyoke Mayor Alex B. Morse. “This would not have been possible without the Baker administration’s timely focus around workforce development and the hard work of everyone at HCC to make this happen.”

"Holyoke Community College is committed to continuously improving our academic program offerings. We have invested $20 million in such efforts over the past few years in areas directly related to regional employment opportunities including this culinary center as well as health care, STEM fields and adult literacy,” Holyoke Community College President William Messner said. “We are pleased to be able to expand our culinary and hospitality program at a critical time for the region and look forward to increasing the educational opportunities for hundreds of local residents."

The Skills Capital grants will range from $50,000 to $500,000, and while the grants do not require a match, applicants are encouraged to demonstrate cash and/or in-kind matches.

Grantees must meet certain criteria:

  • Investment will lead to an increase in skilled workers to meet business-driven hiring needs
  • Focus on improving the skills of students or individuals facing employment barriers
  • Leverage partnerships
  • Reflect regional plans
  • Leverage other funding
  • Build on proven programs
  • Demonstrate sustainability

Eligible applicants include: Massachusetts schools, institutions, and organizations that provide career/vocational technical education programs, including all Chapter 74-approved vocational tech schools, community colleges, and providers of training programs that meet the federal Perkins Act definition of career and technical education.

The grant applications are open starting December 18, and applications must be submitted by January 29, 2016.

How to Apply