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Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) Initiative


Additional Links

Notice of Funding Opportunity (


Application Deadline: Jun 13, 2023


Employment and Training Administration (ETA)


Awards grants to promote the training and employment of individuals in the economically distressed Appalachian, Delta, and Norther Border regions by implementing workforce development projects. Supports activities and planning aligned with regional or community economic development strategies that increase the availability of good jobs, prioritize equity, and promote long-term economic success for individuals, businesses, and communities. Addresses workforce challenges and barriers, including substance misuse, by providing career, training, and support services to help individuals from underserved areas secure good quality jobs in high-demand occupations.

Workforce programs should prioritize efforts to recruit and improve the lives of historically underserved workers adversely affected by persistent poverty, discrimination, or inequality, including, but not limited to, Black, Indigenous, people of color; LGBTQ+ individuals; women; veterans; individuals with disabilities; individuals without a college degree; individuals with substance use disorder; and justice-impacted individuals

Activities eligible for support under this opportunity include:

  • Workforce training, including work-based learning, classroom, or virtual training, that align with existing strategic plan or economic development priorities
  • Employment-related activities, such as assessment of employment barriers, developing individual employment plans, career planning, job coaching, and job matching services for dislocated workers, new entrants in the workforce, and incumbent workers who live in the Appalachian, Delta, and Northern Border regions
  • Innovative, sustainable service delivery strategies addressing issues impacting the economy and workforce within each region
  • Supportive services that enable individuals to participate in career and training services and to gain or retain employment, including recovery coaches, job/career coaches, health navigator services, and other strategies to address substance use disorder,
  • Employer services to help small and medium-sized employers meet a wide range of workforce challenges and needs, including resources and training for employers to develop standards/processes for substance-use disorder or misuse recovery-friendly workplaces
  • Planning activities to align community-focused workforce and economic development plans and strategies to to promote and support economic transformation
  • Purchasing equipment, making renovations, and other capital expenditures that directly serve the employment and training needs of the target population

Proposals for capital improvement activities or equipment purchases must directly facilitate or address the employment and training needs of enrolled grant participants as well as dislocated or other workers in the communities served by the proposed project and require prior approval from the grant officer.

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: $44,200,000

Who Can Apply

Applications may be submitted by:

  • State governments
  • County, city or township governments
  • Special district governments
  • State or local workforce development boards
  • Independent school districts
  • State or local education agencies
  • Federally recognized Indian tribal governments
  • Indian tribal governments other than federally recognized
  • Tribal organizations
  • Public or Indian housing authorities
  • Labor unions, worker organizations, or labor-management partnerships
  • 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)

Applicants must demonstrate they will serve residents living in Appalachia, the Delta, and the Northern Border region. Applicants may train eligible participants for jobs located outside of the 3 targeted regions, including remote work, so long as the applicant can clearly demonstrate that employment in these occupations will not require participants to relocate outside the region.

Eligible applicants must demonstrate collaboration with a community-wide coalition that includes:

  • A minimum of 2 employers/industry representatives
  • At least 1 state or local workforce development board, American Job Center operator, or partner program
  • At least 1 organization representing the community or communities covered by the proposed project to ensure local input

Geographic Coverage

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

What This Program Funds

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

Application Process

Application instructions, requirements, and other information about the online application process can be found in the funding announcement on under the related documents tab.

Additional information, resources, and technical assistance opportunities for applicants are available through WORC Initiative partner organizations:


For programmatic or technical questions:
Sabrina Guerrier

Rural Awards

Past awards rural communities have received in 2020 and 2021 are described on the program website.

Topics This Program Addresses

American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians • Community Planning and Coalition Building • Economic Development • Education and Training • Employment • Recovery • Substance Use Disorder • Veterans • Women