Washington Watch: Apply for Strengthening Community College Training Grants

Photo: AACC

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Wednesday announced a funding opportunity for a new round of Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG).

This is the second annual SCCTG grant competition, which this year will award $45 million to expand and improve community college workforce education programs.

As in the program’s first year, DOL will award grants to individual institutions and consortia of institutions. All grants will be at least $1.5 million and capped at $1.6 million for institutional awards and $5 million for consortia awards. DOL intends to dedicate 75% of the program funds to consortia and the remaining to individual institution awards, for a total of five to seven consortia awards and six to eight institutional awards.

Applications are due by June 2.

Expanded consortia

Consortia are expanded from the initial competition to include state, labor market and affinity-focused consortia. Affinity-focused consortia must be led by and consist of a majority of “qualified institutions,” which are those that are included in the eligibility matrix for either the Higher Education Act Title III and V minority-serving institution programs or the Title III-A Strengthening Institutions program.

The affinity-focused consortia category is one element of an overall focus on closing equity gaps throughout the funding opportunity. Applications that are led by a qualified institution will receive two bonus points on their application’s score, and up to $5 million will be set aside for one or more affinity-focused consortia grants.

“Advancing Equity” is the first of four core program elements that each application must address. The other core elements are: accelerated career pathways, results-driven project design and sustainable systems change.

Colleges must partner with a state or local workforce development board and an industry association or sector group. Applicants are encouraged to have other partners, including community-based organizations and labor unions. Grants are for a four-year period.

Seeking more funding

SCCTG was created and supported by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut). Congress is currently finishing work on its fiscal year 2022 appropriations legislation, which is expected to fund SCCTG for its third year. The American Association of Community Colleges is advocating for substantially increased funding for the program in the final legislation and is hopeful of a positive outcome.

About the Author

Jim Hermes
Jim Hermes is associate vice president of government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.