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By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – The Governor’s Workforce Board will seek proposals for innovative partnership grants it plans to issue next spring to help employers and educators implement strategies its recently released biennial plan identified as priorities in helping to close the state’s so-called skills gap.
“We’re looking to create and incentivize new strategies that will build partnerships between employers and education. This is a new initiative,” Rick Brooks, executive director of the workforce board, told Providence Business News.
The board will issue requests for proposals on Dec. 11 for an unidentified number of grants anticipated to range from $100,000 to $250,000. The workforce board has allocated up to $1.4 million for the Innovative Partnership grants.
The grants will be for partnerships between one or more employer, employer organization or labor management organization, and one or more training and education provider for innovations that will address the workforce needs of Rhode Island employers and increase the employability of students, out-of-school youth, and unemployed adults.
“Our intent is to issue fewer large grants [instead of] many small grants in this particular initiative because these are, in our view, looking for innovations and by design they are intended to be ambitious,” Brooks said.
The workforce board’s Biennial Employment & Training Plan for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 was released Nov. 15 and identified that focus needs to be put on workforce readiness, experiential learning, career pathways and target populations which Brooks said means adult and youth residents who have particular challenges to obtaining employment.
The workforce board said in a release that is “particularly interested” in grant proposals that will demonstrate substantial employer involvement in program design and commitment to program success; prioritize services to individuals with barriers to employment; result in work-readiness and occupational skills and credentials that are valuable to employers; incorporate experiential learning strategies; and create enduring and sustainable partnerships among other goals.
The request for proposals will be released on Dec. 11 and a bidder’s conference will be held on Dec. 17. The proposal deadline is Jan. 30, 2013 and grant implementation will be conducted between April 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.
Brooks said this is the last major grant initiative that will come from the workforce board’s FY2013 budget which closes in July 2013. The board, he said, is likely to issue RFPs next spring for grants that will be supported by the FY2014 budget.