WASHINGTON – To help workers access new, high-quality career opportunities in rural communities, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of $44.2 million in funding in Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative demonstration grants.

The WORC initiative seeks to address persistent economic distress and create pathways to high-quality careers for people living or working in the Appalachian, Lower Mississippi Delta and Northern Border regions, helping them to remain and thrive in these communities. In concert with community partnerships, the initiative aligns with existing economic and workforce development plans to support local and regional workforces’ employment and training needs.

Funding from WORC grants helps to create economic mobility and address historic inequities for marginalized communities of color, rural areas and other underserved and underrepresented communities. In August 2022, the department added the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities program to the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are overburdened by pollution.

This fifth round of funding is made available through a partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority and the Northern Border Regional Commission.

The department awarded WORC grants totaling more than $122 million in Sept. 2019, Sept. 2020, Sept. 2021 and Sept. 2022. 

Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, each WORC grant – ranging from $150,000 to $1.5 million – will fund projects to provide career training and supportive services to people in the Appalachian, Delta and Northern Border regions so they may secure quality jobs in stable, high-demand occupations.

Successful applicants will design projects that demonstrate collaboration with community partners and coordination with existing economic development strategies. 

Learn more about Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative grants and apply.

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