On Sept. 20, the U.S. Department of Labor announced, in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Delta Regional Authority, awards totaling $34,375,000, to provide education, training and career support services in regions that have suffered significant job losses in the energy extraction industry.
Additionally, funding totaling more than $17.1 million will be going to 13 Appalachian projects through the Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities Initiative and recipients include those who have been professionally displaced, are in recovery from substance use disorder, or are completely new to the workforce.
“The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative provides grants to engage local communities and help build pathways for workers to good-paying jobs,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Brent Parton. “The awards we’re announcing today (Sept. 20) reflect the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensure the benefits of its investments in climate, clean energy, training and workforce development reach and serve disadvantaged communities,” said Parton.
“When we prioritize education, training and career support for rural Appalachians, we help our people and our entire region thrive, and eventually compete, with the rest of the nation,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “The latest round of Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities grants will continue giving workers in distressed communities the resources they need to enhance their career opportunities. In doing so, this will reignite Appalachian economies and create results that will reverberate throughout the whole region for years to come,” Manchin said.
According to a Department of Labor statement, in keeping with Executive Order 14008, signed by President Joe Biden, the WORC Initiative aligns with the Justice40 initiative, a whole-of-government approach to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to communities historically marginalized, under served and overburdened by pollution.
The WORC Initiative helps rural communities address historic inequities and to produce good, quality jobs for dislocated and other workers in rural communities in the Appalachian and Delta regions. The grants also help communities diversify their local economies by developing a skilled workforce and providing equitable access to underserved and underrepresented communities.
Grants are being awarded to recipients in the Appalachian Regional Commission area as follows:
• Hazard Community and Technical College – $1,441,292;
• Kentucky Dataseam Initiative Inc. – $1,441,292;
• University of Maryland, College Park – $985,419;
• Land of Sky Regional Council – $1,441,125;
• Rural Action Inc. – $1,421,763;
• University of Pittsburgh – $1,119,908;
• Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Development Board – $938,962;
• Northeast State Community College – $1,258,623;
• New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Area Consortium – $1,441,292;
• Southwest Virginia Community College – $1,378,568;
• BridgeValley Community and Technical College – $1,441,280; and
• Randolph County Housing Authority – $1,440,438.