WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority, today announced the availability of approximately $29.2 million in a third round of grant funding for the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative. Grant awards will range from $150,000 up to $1.5 million.

Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, the initiative provides funding to promote economic prosperity and gainful employment opportunities for eligible residents in the Appalachian and the Lower Mississippi Delta regions. The initiative seeks applicants who are addressing the transformation in the energy production sector and serve communities with significant numbers of workers employed in the energy extraction and related industries, either currently or historically. The funding supports projects to provide employment and training services to regional and local workforces, in collaboration with community partners. Projects also align with existing economic development strategies to enable residents to remain and thrive in these communities.

“This funding will provide opportunities for job training and other services to prepare workers – disadvantaged through no fault of their own – for good jobs in high-demand occupations,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Suzi LeVine. “Working with our partners in Appalachia and the Lower Mississippi Delta, grants like these ensure that these workers benefit as our economy recovers from the pandemic.”

“As Appalachian communities address both economic transition and the impacts of coronavirus, the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative is a welcome opportunity for the region,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Executive Director Brandon McBride. “This partnership has already invested in a host of projects equipping Appalachians with skills needed for high-paying jobs, and we look forward to another round of funding for the development of Appalachia’s workforce.”

“The Workplace Opportunities for Rural Communities initiative provides critical resources for Delta communities to strengthen their workforce and local economies by investing in innovative training for job seekers and workers, placing them in high-quality careers and meeting the needs of local industry so they can continue to grow and thrive in our region,” said Delta Regional Authority Chief of Staff Brian Henson. “This funding not only increases workforce competitiveness in the Delta region but also provides greater opportunities for communities to stimulate economic activity through the creation of jobs, business retention and expansion, and most importantly, the economic mobility of their residents.”

The funding opportunity will allow ETA to award grants to applicants that demonstrate clear strategies to provide needed career, training and support services to eligible individuals in the Appalachian and Delta regions underserved currently by other resources. Authorized by the Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Act, WORC grants support strategies to achieve economic opportunity and address historical inequities, especially to diversify economies in communities once reliant on energy-related employment and support individuals impacted by substance use disorder.

Those eligible for WORC grants include:

State, county, city or township governments


Indian/Native American tribally designated organizations


State or local workforce development boards


Public/Indian housing

Special district governments

Nonprofit organizations

Regional organizations

Private institutions of higher education

Independent school districts


Tribally controlled colleges and universities

Public/state controlled institutions of higher education

Historically black colleges and universities

Indian/Native American tribal governments



Learn more WORC grants and how to apply.

Hispanic-serving Institutions

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