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Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) Initiative


Additional Links

Notice of Funding Opportunity (


Application Deadline: Jul 29, 2020

Sponsoring Organization

Employment and Training Administration (ETA)


Awards grants to promote the training and employment of individuals in the economically distressed Appalachian and Delta regions by implementing workforce development projects. Supports locally developed strategies to prepare workers for good quality jobs in high-demand occupations. Seeks to address the impact of the opioid crisis on communities' workforce and align workforce activities with regional or community economic development strategies to strengthen employment opportunities and promote long-term economic success.

Program objectives include:

  • Implementing innovative, sustainable service delivery strategies addressing issues impacting the economy and workforce within each region
  • Providing or facilitating new or enhanced training, job placement, or support activities to dislocated workers and displaced homemakers, new entrants in the workforce, and incumbent workers, including those affected by substance use disorder (SUD), who live in the Appalachian and Delta regions
  • Aligning and integrating workforce development activities with existing state, regional, or community economic development strategies
  • Developing and expanding partnerships, such as partnering with specific industries to build/sustain capacity, maximize resources, and establish community-based approaches to regional workforce challenges and industry needs
  • Providing or facilitating delivery of support services to industries and employers to help them meet regional workforce challenges and industry needs

Proposals for capital improvement activities or equipment purchases must demonstrate how the project will meet WORC objectives.

Amount of Funding

Award ceiling: $1,500,000 per year
Award floor: $150,000 per year
Project period: Up to 36 months
Estimated number of awards: 35
Estimated total program funding: $29,200,000

Who Can Apply

Applications may be submitted by:

  • State governments
  • County, city or township governments
  • Special district governments
  • Regional organizations
  • State or local workforce development boards
  • Independent school districts
  • Federally recognized Indian tribal governments
  • Indian tribal governments other than federally recognized
  • Indian tribally designated organizations
  • Public or Indian housing organizations
  • Nonprofit organizations with or without 501(c)(3) status
  • Public/State-controlled institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Hispanic-serving institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)

Organizations must serve residents of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and/or Delta Regional Authority (DRC) regions and may not require participants to relocate outside the region.

Eligible applicants must demonstrate collaboration or engagement with at least two employer/industry partners serving the economic, workforce development, and other community needs addressed by the proposed project.

Geographic Coverage

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

What This Program Funds

Buildings and Facilities • Capacity Building • Equipment • New Program • Operating Costs and Staffing

Application Process

Application instructions and other information about the online application process are available on

Applicant webinar recording and slides
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) pre-application webinar series
Delta Regional Authority (DRA) technical assistance webinars


For programmatic or technical questions:
Jenifer McEnery

Rural Awards

Past awards rural communities have received in 2019 and 2020 are described on the program website.

Topics This Program Addresses

Community Planning and Coalition Building • Economic Development • Education and Training • Employment • Opioids • Substance Use Disorder