The purpose of this program is to demonstrate the alignment of regionally driven, comprehensive approaches to addressing economic distress and the necessary workforce development activities to ensure a workforce capable of succeeding in current and future job opportunities. Successful long-term economic growth strategies build upon bottom-up, community-led plans that promote economic resilience and maximize regional strengths. The WORC Initiative grants take a long-term view toward assisting eligible communities in diversifying their economies by investing in local strategies developed by regional partners. This long-term view also acknowledges the impact of the opioid crisis and the significant challenges it presents to a community’s workforce. To address these challenges, ETA encourages applicants to include within their applications strategies to address the employment and training needs of individuals affected by substance use disorder in their communities.

Provide enhanced training and support activities to the people who live in the ARC or DRA regions who are:

  • Dislocated workers
  • New entrants to the workforce
  • Incumbent workers
  • People affected by Substance Use Disorder
  • Training before or after lay-offs
  • Distance learning / mobile training units (can include developing curricula)
  • Capital expenditures and equipment related to workforce initiative as described above

Successful applications will propose projects including all of the following Objectives:
Objective 1: Implement innovative, sustainable service delivery strategies to address economic and workforce-related impacts within each of the regions;
Objective 2: Provide or facilitate the provision of new or enhanced training, job placement and support activities to the following eligible participants: dislocated workers (including displaced homemakers), new entrants in the workforce, and incumbent workers (including eligible individuals within those cohorts that may be affected by substance use disorder [e.g., opioids, stimulants, cocaine, and other substances]) who reside in ARC and DRA regions;
Objective 3: Align and integrate workforce development activities with existing state, regional, or community economic development strategies;
Objective 4: Develop and expand partnerships, including industry partnerships that build and sustain capacity, maximize available resources, and establish community-based approaches for addressing workforce challenges and industry needs in the ARC and DRA regions; and
Objective 5: Provide or facilitate delivery of support services to assist employers and industry in meeting workforce challenges and industry needs in the ARC and DRA regions.

Grant Amounts          $150,000-$1,500,000 (no match required)

Eligible Applicants     State, county, city, or township, special district government, regional organization, school districts, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations; must be registered with SAM


  • Must serve people who live or work in the ARC or Delta regions
  • Project must closely align with regional CEDS, REDC plans, and ARC’s Strategic Plan
  • Partnerships, particularly with regional hiring employers, are important (Must provide at least one letter of COMMITMENT from an employer)
  • Additional points if serving populations in at least one Opportunity Zone


July 21, 2021               Applications due by 4:00pm EST on

September 30, 2021           Anticipated Start Date (project timelines can be between 12-36 months)

Link to Full Application

Links to Resources:

Register for Webinars May 17-21

SAM registration